2017 Memorial Cup Preview: Windsor Spitfires
The 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup is set to begin on Friday, May 19th at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario. Leading up to the event, I will be previewing the four teams who will compete in this year’s tournament. We begin today with a look at the host Windsor Spitfires.
Windsor entered the 2016-2017 season with high expectations as the host of the 2017 Memorial Cup tournament. They made a splash by acquiring forward Jeremy Bracco from the Kitchener Rangers at the OHL trade deadline to add to an already talented group. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect would go on to score eight goals, and record 32 points in 30 regular season games as a member of the Spitfires pushing his season total to a team-leading 83 points. In seven playoff games, Bracco had two goals and a total of five points. Along with Bracco, Windsor’s forward group includes top 2017 NHL draft prospect Gabriel Vilardi, who was second in team scoring with 61 points in the regular season before leading the team in post-season scoring with six points. The Spitfires will also count on undrafted centerman Aaron Luchuk, Ottawa Senators 2016 first round pick Logan Brown and Montreal Canadiens draft pick Jeremiah Addison to produce offensively to be success at this year’s event.
On the blueline, the Spitfires are lead by Montreal Canadiens prospect Mikhail Sergachev. After starting the season in Montreal, he was sent down to Windsor where he played 50 regular season games, scoring 10 times and totaling 43 points. In seven playoff games, Sergachev had one goal and three assists. Winnipeg Jets draft pick Logan Stanley is also worth paying attention to on the blue line, as he will be returning from injury to play in the Memorial Cup tournament. The starting goaltender for the Spitfires is Michael DiPietro.
DiPeitro finished fourth among OHL goalies in the regular season with a 2.35 goals against average in 51 starts. He finished with a record of 30-12-6 and recorded six shutouts with a save percentage of .917. In the post-season the Amherstberg, Ontario native started all seven games against the London Knights posting a 3-4 record with a goals against average of 2.48 and a save percentage of .917, good for third among OHL starters in the playoffs. Mario Culina will be the backup for the host team. The Sault Ste Marie native posted a 2.94 goals against average and .899 save percentage in 21 regular season appearances.
The Spitfires had a disappointing playoff run as they were eliminated in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs in a tight seven game series against the fourth place London Knights. Home ice advantage will be a factor for Windsor as they look to get on the right track and perform well in front of the home crowd at the WFCU centre.
Windsor kicks off the 2017 Mastercard Memorial cup round robin against the QMJHL champion Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday, May 19th. They will then face the WHL Champion Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday, May 21 before closing out round robin play on Wednesday May 24 against the OHL Champion Erie Otters. All game times are 7pm eastern time.
Check back to The Q News for coverage of the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup over the next couple weeks including tomorrow’s preview of the WHL Champions, Seattle Thunderbirds.
Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images