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Winger Kyle McDonald hopes to finally have a chance to make a difference for the Windsor Spitfires.

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McDonald, a second-round pick by the Spitfires in the 2018 OHL Draft, had his rookie season cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery. It showed flashes in its second season, but the COVID-19 pandemic again shortened its season before wiping out all of last season.

“Especially losing a year, that was the year I was hoping to be a great role,” said McDonald, 19. “Now my years are running out.”

But the 6-foot-5, 216-pound McDonald still has time to make an impact and showed that potential again Sunday with a goal and two assists in Windsor’s 5-2 exhibition win over the Hamilton Bulldogs at the WFCU Center.

“He has everything a hockey player should have,” said Spitfires head coach Marc Savard. “He’s talented, he’s a big guy and it’ll be a big part if he can do the little things.”

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Savard got McDonald out playing in the power play on Sunday, took some penalties and came out again with Hamilton’s net empty and the Bulldogs pushing to try to get back into the game.

“We had a great talk,” Savard said of McDonald’s. “We are both from Ottawa and I have hired him and he has had great opportunities. I know that in recent years you have not had such a great opportunity. I like what he is doing and there are still things we are working on, but he has three goals in four games ”.

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Trailing 1-0 after the first period, McDonald received a pass from Daniel D’Amico and fired a shot to the post on Hamilton’s Tristan Malboeuf blocker to tie the game at 1-1.

“I think I’m more confident,” said McDonald, who has five points in four exhibition games this year. “My first two years, I was trying to build and I had a lot of free time (last year) to work on things to be an impact player.”

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Rookie Chris O’Flaherty gave Windsor a 2-1 lead, but Hamilton responded with a late goal to tie the game at 2-2 after 40 minutes.

McDonald assisted in Matthew Maggio’s goal on a two-man Windsor power play for the eventual game winner. After rookie Ethan Miedema extended that lead to two goals, McDonald got another assist on the empty goal from rookie Ryan Abraham to seal the victory as the Spitfires rallied from an 8-1 loss to the Bulldogs in Hamilton on Friday.

“I think we needed it,” McDonald said. “It shows that our guys already care. You have to have character to come back from that and losing 8-1 is shameful. “

But while the victory was enjoyable, Savard is still not lost on the fact that exhibition season is all about giving young players more experience.

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After Maggio moved up to the Spitfires, Savard turned to his rookies for power play as he clung to a one-goal lead.

“We know that this week everyone will be back (from NHL camps),” Savard said. “They (the younger players) have to have a chance and there is no better time than now to see what they can do.”

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That includes rookie goalie Kyle Downey, who had a strong game with 27 saves that included 11 in the opening period when Windsor was outshot 12-8.

“Downey played very well,” McDonald said. “He had a very good game.”

With a home and home game with the Oshawa generals on Friday and Sunday that conclude exhibition play, McDonald just wants to keep pushing to show he’s ready for a bigger role with the team this season.

“It’s good to be in those roles again,” McDonald said. “You’re a minor dwarf again and I had those bigger roles, but when you get to the league you’re not that guy.

“That’s one of the reasons you have preseason, so you can work and shine and show that you deserve everything you want. You just want to keep building. “

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Reference-windsorstar.com

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