Top-seeded Spitfires put Sting on brink of elimination with 4-1 road victory

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The Windsor Spitfires showed patience and persistence on Tuesday to move to within a win of advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

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After dropping the third game of the Western Conference quarter-final series on Tuesday, the top-seeded Spitfires trailed by a goal after the first period on Thursday, but closed the game with four unanswered goals.

The 4-1 victory, before a crowd of 2,583 at Progressive Auto Sales Arena, gave the Spitfires a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series against the eighth-seeded Sting. Windsor can advance to the second round with a win on Saturday in Game 5 at the WFCU Centre. Game time is 7:05 pm

“We had a lot of guys step up,” Spitfires’ head coach Marc Savard said. “It was great to see.”

Angus MacDonell put the Sting on the board first just over two minutes into the game, but it was the only goal allowed by Windsor goalie Matt Onuska, who finished with 24 saves and made several big stops to keep his team from falling further behind.

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“Onuska was solid when we needed him,” Savard said.

Windsor finally got its offense rolling in the second period after Savard did some line juggling. Jacob Maillet slid a shot past Sting goalie Ben Gaudreau to tie the game and rookie Ryan Abraham, who moved up to the top line, fed captain Will Cuylle, who went high to the blocker side on Gaudreau to give Windsor a 2-1 lead midway through the game.

“That may have been Abraham’s best game of the series,” Savard said of the club’s first-round pick in 2020 after a two-assist performance.

First-year forward Oliver Peer forced a turnover and pushed the Windsor lead to 3-1 after 40 minutes.

“There wasn’t any panic in the game,” Savard said of how his team handled the early deficit. “It was just the desire, determination and commitment in playing for the team again.”

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Windsor never gave the Sting a chance to get back in the game. Abraham fed Cuylle to create a two-on-one with Wyatt Johnston and the OHL scoring champion buried his first goal of the series for the only goal of the third period.

“Over the last month, when we were on that big (13-game) winning streak, the third period was the big thing and closing games out and when you practice those things, you get good at them,” Savard said.

Now, the Spitfires head home for a Friday practice before attempting to close out the series at home on Saturday.

“The fourth (win) is always the toughest and we’ll have to be ready,” Savard said.

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Game Summary

Monday Result

Spitfires 4 Sting 1

Windsor 0 3 1 – 4

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Sarnia 1 0 0 – 1

Firstperiod: 1. Sarnia, MacDonell 1 (Filak) 2:15. Penalties: D’Amico W (fighting), Dillingham S (fighting) 7:52, Mast S (tripping) 13:05, Maggio W (slashing) 14:01, Maggio W (unsportsmanlike conduct) 17:32.

Secondperiod: 2. Windsor, Maillet 1 (Currie, Sobolev) 4:17, 2. Windsor, Cuylle 3 (Abraham, De Angelis) 9:52, 3. Windsor, Peers 2 (unassisted) 14:51. Penalties: DeGurse S (tripping) 6:25, Currie W (tripping) 11:10.

Third period: 5. Windsor, Johnston 1 (Cuylle, Abraham) 6:55. Penalties: Henault W (hooking) 10:12, Renwick W (fighting), MacDonell S (slashing, fighting) 14:15.

Game stats – SOG – Windsor 11 11 9 – 31 Sarnia 8 11 6 – 25 Goal (shots-saves) – Windsor: Onuska (W, 3-1-0) (25-24). Sarnia: Gaudreau (L,1-3-0) (31-27). Power play (goals-chances) – Windsor 0-3. Sarnia 0-4. Referees: Jason Faist (5) and Joe Monette (25). Linesmen: Blake Beer (67) and Geoff Rutherford (62). Att.: 2,583 at Progressive Auto Sales Arena.


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