Spitfires can clinch spot in Memorial Cup final with win over Hitmen
BRANDON, Man. — The Windsor Spitfires face a far different road to the final at this year’s Memorial Cup than a year ago.
Windsor started 0-2 last May and had to win its final game of the round robin, the tiebreaker, semifinal and then the final to claim the franchise’s first Memorial Cup title.
This year, the Spitfires can gain an automatic berth to Sunday’s 92nd championship final with a victory Monday over the Calgary Hitmen at Westman Place.
“I think our guys can smell an opportunity,” Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner said.
The opportunity came courtesy of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
After being hammered by Windsor in Friday’s tournament opener, the host team responded with a 4-0 win over Moncton on Sunday. That loss means Windsor could go straight to the final with a win over Calgary as it will have the head-to-head tiebreaker against both the Hitmen and Wheat Kings.
Moncton is 0-2 and can only reach the tiebreaker game with a win over Windsor on Tuesday.
A Calgary win won’t automatically get the Hitmen to the final since they still have to face Brandon.
Should three teams sit tied, a tiebreaker based on total goals for divided by total goals combined for and against would decide seeding.
“We’ll let the other things settle themselves out,” said Calgary head coach Mike Williamson, whose team rallied from a late two-goal deficit to beat Moncton 5-4 Saturday. “It just might be a different path than someone else.”
The Spitfires will have Taylor Hall in the lineup against the Hitmen. Hall was stiff Saturday after being knocked face-first into the boards in Friday’s opening win.
“I saw the replay on TV and thought of my mom,” said Hall, who came back and scored two goals in the game. “I knew she would be terrified.”
Hall needed four stitches to close a cut on his forehead when it hit his visor and four more for his nose, which hit the boards.
It didn’t stop him from skating Sunday and he actually won a mini golf tournament with teammates Eric Wellwood, Greg Nemisz, Scott Timmins and Mark Cundari Saturday.
“I shot a 48,” he said. “A lot of them were complaining it was tough, but I didn’t have any problems.”
Windsor had no problems in Friday’s 9-3 win against Brandon, but captain Harry Young said the team won’t be too cocky for Monday night’s game with Calgary.
“We’re an older team and have enough experience to know one game won’t make our tournament,” Young said.
The Hitmen could be missing Western Hockey League scoring champ Brandon Kozun, who re-aggravated an ankle injury against Moncton.
Defenceman Jaynen Rissling was also knocked out of that game and is questionable, but Williamson is more focused on the task at hand.
“Windsor’s a great team,” he said. “They’re not a team that cheats, but takes advantage when you break down or fall asleep. We can’t stand around.”
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