Spitfires are Knott backing down from defending Champs
By Chris Savard
The Windsor Spitfires have pushed the defending Memorial Cup Champion London Knights to the brink of elimination with an exciting 3-2 overtime win. The Spits now take a commanding 3-1 series lead with them into Game 5 Friday night at the Budweiser Gardens. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Graham Knott was the hero of the night scoring both the game’s first and last goals. His biggest came at 5:58 of OT to give the Spitfires a 3-2 win over the Knights before 5,302 at the WFCU Centre.
Windsor - March 30, 2017 - The Windsor Spitfires have pushed the defending Memorial Cup Champion London Knights to the brink of elimination with an exciting 3-2 overtime win. The Spits now take a commanding 3-1 series lead with them into Game 5 Friday night at the Budweiser Gardens.
Chicago Blackhawks prospect Graham Knott was the hero of the night scoring both the game’s first and last goals. His biggest came at 5:58 of OT to give the Spitfires a 3-2 win over the Knights before 5,302 at the WFCU Centre.
Windsor was dominant in the first period out shooting London 16-4. The Spits got an early power play and just two minutes and 42 seconds in, and Knott gave the home team an early lead. London goaltender Tyler Parsons was solid between the pipes and managed to keep the game close heading into the room after the first period.
London is always a tough opponent and despite getting outplayed in the first, the Knights showed no signs of quit and had taken a 2-1 lead by the eight minute mark of the middle frame on goals by Evan Bouchard and Janne Kuokkanen. Gabe Vilardi continued to prove why he will be an early pick in this summer’s NHL Entry draft, tying the game up with just over three minutes to go. It was Vilardi’s fourth point in the series.
As Parsons did for the Knights in the first, Spits' goaltender Michael DiPietro rose to the occasion in the third. London outshot Windsor 20-8 and if not for DiPietro, this series was heading back to London all tied a two. DiPietro made a number of key saves and was quick to freeze the puck so his team could regroup. The Spits won 60% of the faceoffs in the game, including multiple key wins in their own zone in the final twenty minutes.
The extra frame only lasted about six minutes, but it was great end-to-end action. Parsons and DiPietro made back to back huge saves to keep their respective teams alive.
The game winner was a nice one. Knott picked up the puck on the left side of the ice after it bounced over the stick of defenceman Victor Mete, put on the after burners and walked in alone on Parsons. Knott moved to his right and put the puck in on the backhand past the sprawled Parsons.
The building was electric most of the night and the place exploded as #37 put this one away for the home team. The Spits poured over the bench and celebrated an impressive overtime win. The team will head east on the 401 tonight to get settled in London in advance of Game 5 tomorrow.
C’MON MAN! - This has been a great series against the team’s biggest rival. The Spits are loaded with NHL drafted players and have two guys in Vilardi and DiPietro who could go first round this summer. Not to mention that this team from London is pretty darn good too! I am sure team management must be scratching their heads wondering what more they need to do to fill the barn. The WFCU Centre has a capacity of 6,500 and it was only 61% full (3,990) on Tuesday and 81% full (5,302) tonight. There was room for 1,200 more fans to take in this great game tonight. C’mon Windsor-Essex - it’s playoff time, it’s time to support your time. The Spits are hoping there won’t be a game six here on Sunday, but either way this team will play at home again in these playoffs. Let’s get out and support this team as they journey to the Memorial Cup!
In his lifetime, Chris Savard has spent time as both an elected official and a hot air balloon pilot. As such, FULL OF HOT AIR seemed to be an appropriate name for this column. Savard will provide his thoughts on a number of topics including hockey on this site, as well as politics and local issues on OurHometown.ca. His opinion combined with $1.60 will buy you a medium coffee at Tim's! You can email him at email@example.com