by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Windsor Spitfires exploded for four goals in the first period and cruised to a 7-2 victory over the Flint Firebirds at the WFCU Centre Oct. 13.
Spitfires center Logan Brown recorded three goals in the first 11 minutes of the opening period for a hat-trick and Windsor scored six times on their first 13 shots on net against Connor Hicks and the Firebirds, who fall to 4-3 and remain win-less on the road. Windsor also got goals from Luke Boka, Jalen Chatfield, Jeremiah Addison and Aaron Luchuk while Mike DiPietro made 28 saves in net for his fourth win of the season as the club improves to 7-2.
Brown’s big night was Windsor’s fourth consecutive win and pushed his point total to 17 through seven games, with six goals and 11 assists to his credit. Brown said the team took a lot of big steps when they won three games in four nights last week and their momentum carried over against Flint.
“Anytime you can put points up there’s confidence but we never want to get too high or too low,” said Brown. “That’s what you learn over the years so I’m just trying to stay even keeled right now and I just want to keep working hard. The harder you work, the more chances you are going to get so that’s the mentality I have right now and all of the guys in our room.”Flint’s Ryan Moore, a Spitfires draft pick in 2013, figured in on both Firebird’s goals and leads the OHL with 19 points. Flint edged Windsor in shots 30-20 but by the time Moore scored late in the first period to make it 4-1, enough damage had already been done. Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson said he was happy with the start from his team against a high-pressure Firebirds squad.
“Flint comes out very aggressive, we knew they were going to play us hard and they were going to fore-check hard,” said Thompson. “We put in a game-plan to alleviate some of that pressure early and it worked out well. Our [defense] did a good job of exiting … we didn’t get a lot of shots on goal but the ones we did get initially, we made count and we were able to capitalize on some opportunities.”
Earlier in they day, the Spitfires received reinforcement up front when Finnish import Julius Nattinen returned from the American Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls, after being assigned following his team in training camp with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Nattinen flew in from California and picked up a pair of assists in his regular season debut in front of 4,034 Windsor fans.
“It’s not easy, that’s a long trip from San Diego,” said Thompson. “That’s tough but he fit in nicely, he did a good job on our power play. You can tell that he’s a special player, he’s big and he’s strong. He could have had a number of points tonight. He did a good job in his first game in, that’s for sure.”The Spitfires are now 7-2 and will head to the road for a Friday night battle at Budweiser Gardens against the London Knights Oct. 14. Windsor defeated London 5-4 in overtime just five days prior but Brown said any time you play a team like the Knights it’s a big game.
“The fans are going to be into it and it’s a pretty good rivalry right now,” said Brown. “We got the best of them last weekend and we’re to try and do it again.”
Puck-drop against the Knights Oct. 14 is 7:30 p.m.