With the 2020 OHL commercial deadline in the rear view mirror, the Windsor Spitfires can now focus on important business. Getting close to the top of the Western Conference rankings after the trade deadline isn’t easy, but it’s a welcome challenge. Getting good news never hurts either.
General Manager Bill Bowler remained silent during the Friday deadline. He made no move, showing confidence in his list. However, as the team entered the calendar after the deadline, they found that they were still chased and that the ice was shrinking.
It’s not going to be easy for two months, but that’s what makes it so good. Add recognition to the NHL and it’s hard to complain.
Spitfires three-point weekend
Thursday evening, just before the Friday noon deadline, the Spitfires welcomed Oshawa Generals into town. A few hours earlier, the Generals traded successfully with the Niagara IceDogs, acquiring 18-year-old star Philip Tomasino for several draft picks. The agreement quickly paid off.
As the Spitfires took the lead 3-1, thanks to two goals from Dallas Stars prospect Curtis Douglas, Tomasino stole the show. The Nashville Predators prospect started with three assists, then added two late goals for a five-point effort. Once the dust settled, the Generals left with a 6-3 victory, despite a delay of 33-20.
The Niagara IceDogs traded star striker Philip Tomasino for the Oshawa Generals in the 2020 OHL trade deadline. (Terry Wilson / OHL images)
On Saturday evening, the Spitfires looked for a rebound on the road against the Flint Firebirds during a confrontation in the West division. The teams have faced each other all season. It was no different.
The Firebirds took the lead 3-1. However, this did not last long. A goal late in the second period and a goal early in the third period tied the Spitfires. Overtime was on the menu and perhaps rightly so.
In the extra frame, on a Spitfires power play, Firebirds sniper Ty Dellandrea broke shorthanded and beat goalkeeper Kari Piiroinen for the 4-3 victory.
Ty Dellandrea has a bright future with the Dallas Stars. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
To conclude the weekend, the Spitfires traveled to Kitchener for a Sunday morning with the Rangers.
This time it was the Spitfires who took the lead 3-1. Like Saturday, however, the head was not sure. The Rangers scored three straight games to bring the score up to 4-3 in the third. However, the ending here was a little different.
A good individual effort from Douglas equalized the match to four, forcing extra time. There, the Spitfires played in numerical advantage and were not mistaken. Egor Afanasyev wired home a shot to give the visitors a 5-4 victory. This is how you end a weekend!
NHL eyes are watching
The three-point weekend gives the Spitfires exclusive possession of first place in the conference, one point on the Rangers and Saginaw Spirit, with two games in hand each.
Now the Spitfires are preparing for a pair of home games this weekend. Saturday night, they welcome the Erie Otters into town, while Sunday sees the Spirit for another exhausting tilt in the afternoon.
The team is entering the weekend with good news in its pocket as well. On Monday afternoon, the NHL’s Central Tracing Bureau released its ranking of medium-term prospects, and six Spitfires were on it.
Forwards Jean-Luc Foudy and Will Cuylle are respectively in the lead, ranked 20th and 21st respectively among North American skaters. Defenseman Ruben Rafkin is next with 72, followed by defensemen Dylan Robinson with 138 and Louka Henault with 201. Forward Kyle McDonald completes the list with 216.
Foudy and Cuylle are considered potential in the first round since joining the Ontario League in April 2018. They were also rated “A” (first or second round) players in the November standings. Rakfin, Robinson and McDonald were all “C” rated players, placing them in the fifth, sixth or seventh round. Henault is the new member of the group. Not drafted in 2019, he has had a career season with 29 points in 39 games, compared to 22 points in 66 games in 2018-19.
It’s better too! Thursday night, Foudy and Cuylle will have the opportunity to show off their stuff in the CHL / NHL Top Prospects game from Kubota to Hamilton.
Will Cuylle (13) and Jean-Luc Foudy (93) are part of the 2020 CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game. (Dave Jewell / THW)
They are among the 40 players eligible for the CHL draft that will be divided into the white team and the red team for the 25th annual game. Foudy will be on Team White while Cuylle, along with Spitfires equipment manager, J.R. Grant, will be on Team Red.
The match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.