Day 4 of the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament as the hosts, the Windsor Spitfires and the WHL champions, the Seattle Thunderbirds, face off in a matchup of great importance for both teams.
Windsor Spitfires (1-0-0-0)
Last Friday, the Windsor Spitfires started the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament with a 44 days deficit than the other teams. Their playoff-run ended in round one of the OHL playoffs, at the hands of the London Knights.
After several intensive weeks of preparation, the table was set for their first meeting against their opponents the Saint John Sea Dogs, winners of the 2017 Rogers President Cup.
The Spitfires set the tone for the tournament, surprising the mighty Sea Dogs by a 3-2 score from the WFCU Center in Windsor. Jeremy Bracco was named first star of the game, scoring a goal and an assist. The latter was complicit in the first net of the game, following up by scoring the second goal of his team less than two minutes to go in the second frame.
To watch the game’s highlights, click here.
The other goal scorers were Jeremiah Addison and Aaron Luchuk. Montreal Canadiens prospect, Russia native Mikhail Sergachev, amassed two helpers and was named the third star of the game.
Goaltender Michael DiPietro was solid in front of the net, stopping 20 of the 22 shots aimed at him. The 17-year-old was perfect throughout the game, but gave up the finale two goals in the final minutes of the game.
«We probably got a little respect back after our win against Saint John, such a dominant team and a powerful team, that we’re gonna see the best that every team has to offer for now moving forward.» commented Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson in a pre-game interview. «Our guys are prepared for that, they’re ready for that, and we know Seattle is gotta be very very good tonight.»
«We feel like they’re probably approaching it like their backs are against the wall and nobody is more dangerous than when your back is against the wall and so the guys are ready for that. We’ve learned from our experiences in the London series […] We’re are gonna have to play our best hockey way better than when we played against Saint John if we’re gonna hope to win tonight.»
More than 5926 fans were present to encourage their team last Friday, an atmosphere that seems to motivate the Spitfires players. A crowd as dense will be expected for this third matchup.
With a win tonight, the Spits could take a comfortable lead in the overall standings with a second consecutive victory.
Seattle Thunderbirds (0-1-0-0)
Exactly 24 hours ago, the Seattle Thunderbirds started the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament against the Ontario Hockey League playoffs champions, the Erie Otters.
As the last team to qualify for the prestigious tournament, the confrontation opposed two teams hailing from the United States, a first since 2007.
Unable to take the lead in the game, even after tying the score twice, the Thunderbirds eventually fell to a 4-2 mark.
Highlights are available here.
Veteran Scott Eansor and defensemen Austin Strand were the goal scorers for Seattle. Star player Mathew Barzal collected one assist, earning the second prior to the end of the game.
Goaltender Carl Stankowski made the headlines again. The rookie goalie stood in front of the Otters’ powerful attack, halting 31 shots.
The Thunderbirds will have to straighten up quickly. A second loss in as much games could eventually distance them from the title. Few teams were able to win them a spot in the semi-finals after they had started the tournament o-2.
Questioned on the subject, head coach Steve Konowalchuk did not seem too worried about his team’s current situation. «It’s getting there. We lost the first game, if you’re gonna have a bad game at a tournament, that’s the game to have a bad game.»
«Obviously they got a really good back end, some skilled forwards and a good goalie so they’re pretty complete team and i think it’s going to be a good matchup.» said co-captain Mathew Barzal about the Spitfires. «Today we come to the rink with the same mind set, we gotta win tonight, we gotta go 1 and 0 tonight.»
Game three is set to start at 7:00 pm ET, broadcasted on Sportsnet and TVA Sports. You can also watch the game on CHLLive.com.
A text by Frédéric Damiani