Spitfires eleven again face elimination after Bulldogs rally for third one-goal victory of series

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The Windsor Spitfires have been down this road before.

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For the second series in a row, the Spitfires will face elimination in Game 6 on Monday after a 3-2 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday before a crowd of 7,690 at FirstOntario Centre.

The Bulldogs now hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Ontario Hockey League final and can clinch the teams second title in five years with a win at the WFU Center on Monday in Game 6. Game time is 7 pm

“We’ve been down going into Game 6 (before) and we need a valiant effort (on Monday),” Spitfires’ head coach Marc Savard said.

Twice the Spitfires built a one-goal lead on Sunday only to see the Bulldogs respond with a power-play goal to tie the game before getting the winner early in the third period with the only goal of the final frame.

“No excuses,” Savard said of the two power-play goals allowed. “We just didn’t get the job done.”

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The Bulldogs came out firing with the game’s first six shot and nearly opened the scoring in the opening minute, but Spitfires’ defenseman Michael Renwick swept a puck off the goal line.

Windsor rebounded to open the scoring when center Wyatt Johnston’s shot went over the net, bounced back, hit Bulldogs’ goalie Marco Constantini in the back and was poked out of the air by Johnston and off the net minder and in.

But the Bulldogs got a power-play goal with Ryan Winterton jamming a puck home from the crease to tie the game at 1-1 after 20 minutes.

Rookie Ryan Abraham gave Windsor a 2-1 lead early in the second period as he redirected a pass from Matthew Maggio over Constantini’s blocker.

Again, the Bulldogs pulled even with a power-play goal from Mason McTavish, who put a shot off the post past Matt Onuska.

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“We just didn’t get any blocks,” Savard said of the penalty kill. “We’ve talked about getting in lanes and putting your body on the line, which we’ve done. You can’t let up.”

Hamilton got the game-winning goal less than two minutes into the third period. Patrick Thomas forced a turnover behind the Windsor net and fed McTavish in front. Onuska got his left pad on the first shot, but McTavish tapped the rebound out of the air and in.

The Spitfires head several quality chances in the final minutes with Onuska on the bench, but could not put the tying goal behind Constantini.

“We were around the net a lot, just no luck,” Savard said. “I wish we had some puck luck.”

Now, the Spitfires face a win or go home scenario on Monday, which was the same situation the club was in against Flint in the Western Conference final before rallying to win the final two games of the series.

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“If we keep working and believing and playing the right way, we’re going to get a bounce,” Savard said.

Five games into the series and four of the games have been decided by a single goal, which includes all three victories by a Hamilton squad that boasted the best record in the league this season and who many thought was the clear-cut favorite to win this series.

“It was a good effort,” Savard said of Sunday’s game. “We came up a little short, but we’re confident. We think we’re as good as these guys.”

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Game Summary

Sunday Result

Bulldogs 3 Spitfires 2

Windsor 1 1 0 – 2

Hamilton 1 1 1 – 3

Firstperiod: 1. Windsor, Johnston 14 (Cuylle) 8:42, 2. Hamilton, Winterton 7 (Hayes, Morrison) 14:11 (pp). Penalties: McTavish H (elbowing) 3:52, Christopoulos W (unsportsmanlike conduct), Anderson H (unsportsmanlike conduct) 7:56, Cuylle W (head check) 13:08.

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Secondperiod: 3. Windsor, Abraham 4 (Maggio, Henault) 3:13, 4. Hamilton, McTavish 13 (Morrison, Hayes) 12:58 (pp). Penalties: Xhekaj H (elbowing) 7:41, D’Amico W (holding) 12:32, Maggio W (tripping) 18:30.

Third period: 5. Hamilton, McTavish 14 (Thomas) 1:59. Penalties: None.

Game stats – SOG – Windsor 10 5 11 – 26 Hamilton 11 6 7 – 24 Goal (shots-saves) – Windsor: Onuska (L,11-5-2) (24-21). Hamilton: Costantini (W,15-1-1) (26-24). Power play (goals-chances) – Windsor 0-2. Hamilton 2-3. Referees: Mike Hamilton (8) and Sean Reid (26). Linesmen: Spencer Knox (72) and Scott Lawson (98). Att.: 7,690 at First Ontario Centre.


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