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Spitfires open tough weekend stretch with wild overtime loss to Knights


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It was a tough way to enter the toughest stretch of the season on Friday for the Windsor Spitfires.

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Windsor opened a blocked of three games in three days with a road match in London against the Midwest Division-leading Knights. The club returns home Saturday to face the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who sit just in front of Windsor in the West Division standings, before London comes to the WFCU Centre on Sunday.

“This will be our biggest challenge of the season with these three games,” Spitfires’ head coach Marc Savard said.

For the Spitfires, who still have hopes of moving up in the standings, Friday was tough start to that stretch with a wild comeback falling short in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Knights before 8,008 at Budweiser Gardens.

“This weekend is very important for us in the standings and a great opportunity for ourselves to boost up in the standings and into a better playoff position,” Spitfires’ captain Will Cuylle said.

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The Spitfires had Cuylle back in the lineup after missing three games from a league suspension.

“Obviously, very excited to join the team again and be a part of the action,” Cuylle said.

Defenceman Nathan Ribau, who received a major penalty and game misconduct in a win on Sunday over Sarnia, was also the lineup after league officials reviewed the play and decided no further action was warranted.

“It’s huge (getting Cuylle back), especially when we won a couple with him out,” said Savard, whose team went 2-1 in his absence.

Still trying to get a little more balance to his offence, Savard took Cuylle off the top line to start the game and put overage Daniel D’Amico with Wyatt Johnston and Matthew Maggio while Cuylle played with rookie Ryan Abraham and Pasquale Zito.

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However, Savard said Cuylle won’t stay off that top unit at all times and the trio was reunited when the Spitfires fell behind 2-0 in the opening period.

“Every game they’ll get shifts together,” Savard said of Cuylle, Johnston and Maggio. “They love playing together and feed off each other. Won’t take away, but need some balance.”

But together or apart, the Spitfires struggled on Friday to find goals or even create offensive chances for much of the game until finding a different gear in a wild third period

“They’re a great hockey club and they’ve had great systems forever,” Savard said of the Knights.

London got off to a quick start as Denver Barkey converted a Tye McSorley feed to open the scoring less than five minutes into the game. Sean McGurn found a hole in the Windsor defence and scored to push London’s lead to 2-0 after 20 minutes.

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Windsor picked up its play to start the second period, but London got the only goal of the period with defenceman Isaiah George scoring to give the Knights a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes.

But the Spitfires did not quit and got to overtime with a wild third-period comeback that was keyed by some unlikely offensive sources.

On the power play, rookie Ryan Abraham picked up his eighth goal of the season to get Windsor on the board and Josh Currie notched his first goal in 20 games since coming to the Spitfires in a trade with North Bay. Currie scored just 37 seconds after Abraham to make it a one-goal game. First-year centre Oliver Peer added just his second goal of the season just under two minutes later as the Spitfires needed less than eight minutes to tie the game at 3-3.

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The Knights regained the lead just past the midway mark of the period on an Antonio Stranges goal, but before the public address announcer could call out the goal the Spitfires tied the game again. Jacob Maillet gloved an attempted clearing pass out of the air and scored just 55 seconds after the Stranges to tie the game and force overtime.

However, the Knights’ Gerard Keane notched the winner with 86 seconds left in overtime as London scored its fifth win in seven games against the Spitfires this season with two of those wins coming in extra time.

jpparker@postmedia.com

twitter.com/winstarparker

Game Summary

Friday Result

Knights 5 Spitfires 4 (OT)

Windsor 0 0 4 0 – 4

London 2 1 1 1 – 5

First period: 1. London, Barkey 4 (McSorley) 4:03, 2. London, McGurn 14 (McCue) 11:59. Penalty: Renwick W (delay of game) 19:01.

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Second period: 3. London, George 4 (McCue) 14:10. Penalties: Baber L (roughing) 12:16, Maggio W (hooking) 13:30.

Third period: 4. Windsor, Abraham 8 (Perrott, D’Amico) 5:26 (pp), 5. Windsor, Currie 10 (Maillet) 6:03, 6. Windsor, Peer 2 (Henault, DeAngelis) 7:47, 7. London, Stranges 20 (Baber, Keane) 10:41, 8. Windsor, Maillet 7 (unassisted) 11:36. Penalties: Cuylle W (tripping) :17, Sim L (hooking) 4:05, Edward L (interference) 8:12, Mailloux L (slashing) 12:37, Maggio W (hooking) 12:41, Perrott W (delay of game) 18:16.

Overtime: 9. London, Keane 8 (McCue, McGurn) 3:34. Penalties: None.

Game stats – SOG – Windsor 7 8 17 1 – 33 London 13 10 13 6 – 42 Goal (shots-saves) – Windsor: Onuska (L,5-4-1-1) (42-37). London: Brochu (W,29-10-2-0) (33-29). Power play (goals-chances) – Windsor 1-4. London 0-5. Referees: Pat Myers (40) and Andrew Willmetts (2). Linesmen: Blake Beer (67) and Jordan Hurtubise (57). Att.: 8,008 at Budweiser Gardens.

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