Spitfires force deciding Game 7 in OHL final with 5-2 win over Bulldogs


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Once again, the Windsor Spitfires have pulled themselves off the canvas.

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Facing elimination, down a goal and struggling to generate offense, the Spitfires struck for a pair of goals 47-seconds apart in the final 76 seconds of the second period on Monday.

From there, the Spitfires never relinquished the lead en route to a 5-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs before a crowd of 6,378 at the WFCU Centre.

The Bulldogs, who rallied for a 3-2 win at home on Sunday in Game 5, were looking to clinch the club’s second title since 2018 on Monday. Instead, the battle for the Ontario Hockey League title and J. Ross Robertson Cup will go to a seventh and deciding game for the first time since 2013 with Hamilton hosting Game 7 on Wednesday.

The Spitfires found themselves in early penalty trouble on Monday taking back-to-back minors, but it actually provided the opportunity for Windsor to open the scoring.

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An attempted Hamilton pass back to the point went astray and overage forward Daniel D’Amico outraced a defender and beat Bulldogs’ goalie Marco Costantini for a short-handed goal on the first kill attempt to open the scoring.

Wyatt Johnston had a golden opportunity to extend the lead, but Constantini got over to deny him at the edge of the crease and the Bulldogs pulled even before the end of the period when Avery Hayes forced a turnover and fed a wide-open Logan Morrison in front.

Morrison put the Bulldogs in front midway through the second period when the Spitfires were unable to clear and the puck was sent to Morrison, who again was alone in front.

From there, the Spitfires struggled to find any flow until the final two minutes of the period when a good cycle resulted in the tying goal. Jacob Maillet found D’Amico in the slot and he fired home his second of the game to make it 2-2.

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With the period winding down, Johnston won a faceoff cleanly and captain Will Cuylle quickly fed Michael Renwick at the point and the former Bulldog defenseman drilled a shot over Constantini’s blocker with 29 seconds left in the period to put the Spitfires back on top.

A scrum after the buzzer to end the second period proved costly for the Bulldogs when defenseman Arber Xhekaj was handed a double-minor for roughing.

The Spitfires would snap an 0-for-14 skid with the man advantage when Cuylle redirected a Johnston shot past Constantini just 46 seconds into the third period to put the Spitfires up 4-2.

Paquale Zito sealed the win when he blocked a Xhekaj point shot and raced in alone to beat Constantini to give Windsor its second three-goal victory of the series.

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For the second week in a row, Spitfires’ goalie Matt Onuska was named the OHL’s goaltender of the week.

The 20-year-old Onuska stopped 97-of-106 shots in three games to go 1-1-1 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .915 save percentage over the three games.

Savard made one lineup change for Monday’s game replacing James Jodoin on the fourth line with Avval Baisov.

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Game Summary

Monday Result

Spitfires 5 Bulldogs 2

Hamilton 1 1 0 – 2

Windsor 1 2 2 – 5

Firstperiod: 1. Windsor, D’Amico 10 (unassisted) 7:27 (sh), 2. Hamilton, Morrison 16 (Hayes) 15:54. Penalties: De Angelis W (holding) 5:35, D’Amico W (holding) 8:03, Humphrey H (interference) 11:59.

Secondperiod: 3. Hamilton, Morrison 17 (Xhekaj) 10:46, 4. Windsor, D’Amico 11 (Maillet, Peer) 18:44, 5. Windsor, Renwick 5 (Cuylle, Johnston) 19:31. Penalties: Humphrey H (too many men) 2:20, Humphrey H (roughing), Zito W (roughing) 11:29, Xhekaj H (double minor roughing), Perrott W (roughing) 20:00

Third period: 6. Windsor, Cuylle 15 (Johnston) :46 (pp), 7. Windsor, Zito 2 (unassisted) 16:58. Penalties: Staios H (holding) 2:54, Renwick W (cross checking) 17:57.

Game stats – SOG – Hamilton 6 13 10 – 29 Windsor 5 13 8 – 26 Goal (shots-saves) – Hamilton: Costantini (L,15-2-1) (26-21). Windsor: Onuska (W, 12-5-2) (29-27). Power play (goals-chances) – Hamilton 0-3. Windsor 1-4. Referees: Jason Faist (5) and Dave Lewis (16). Linesmen: Kevin Hastings (61) and Tommy Hughes (45). Att.: 6,378 at the WFCU Center.



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