Both teams from the OHL remained undefeated coming into the Wednesday night match-up between the Windsor Spitfires and Erie Otters; the two Western Conference clubs played for an automatic bye into the Memorial Cup final, with the loser to face Saint John in the semifinal. Though the Otters clawed their way back into the game late in the third period, they fell 4-2 to Windsor. Erie will play in the semi-final, a trip to the championship on the line against the Sea Dogs.
The Windsor Spitfires clogged the neutral zone through the first period, preventing the Otters from entering the offensive zone and setting up their deadly offense. With their defense playing responsibly, the Spitfires’ offense was free to take chances and go about their work: Jeremiah Addison was rewarded for his efforts with a pair of goals, one early in the period and one late to give Windsor a 2-0 lead after twenty minutes of play.
The host team started the second period with a five-on-three power play, and Mikhail Sergachev converted with the man-advantage off his powerful slapshot from the point. Down 3-0 and the game slipping away from them, the Otters buckled down and started creating offensive chances through hard work and puck pressure–but Spitfires goaltender Michael DiPietro stayed strong in his net, stopping fifteen shots through the second period (including a sure-goal with the paddle of his stick) to take the Otters into the third period without a goal.
Erie continued to hammer Windsor’s net with shots in the third, but DiPietro and the Spitfires’ collapsing defense was able to keep the puck out. Then, with 13:31 remaining in the game, Jeremiah Addison completed his hat-trick with a backdoor one-timer from just below the slot. His third goal proved to be an important one, as Erie’s Taylor Raddysh scored on the power play with just minutes left in the third period–Taylor’s brother Darren, an NHL free agent, assisted on the play. DiPietro’s play in net proved the difference maker through the second and third periods, however, as he made 28 saves on 30 shots through the final forty minutes to secure a 4-2 win for the Spitfires.
Kyle Maksimovich and Taylor Raddysh scored Erie’s goals, while Troy Timpano made 15 saves on 19 shots in the loss.
Jeremiah Addison scored three goals for Windsor, and Gabriel Vilardi–a top prospect for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft–notched three assists. Michael DiPietro, also available for NHL selection in 2017, made 33 saves on 35 shots in the victory.
Windsor progresses to the Memorial Cup Final, while Erie must play Saint John in the semi-final–with the winner determining who moves on to the championship game.
For more information on the Erie Otters, contact Aaron Cooney at email@example.com