Windsor Spitfires 5, Ottawa 67’s 3

After two hard fought wins over traditional rival Oshawa, the Ottawa 67’s lost at home to the lowly Windsor Spitfires.

Going into Sunday’s game, the 67’s were second in their division, a point behind the first-place Peterborough Petes. They now are third, a point behind the Petes and the Mississauga Steelheads.

Windsor didn’t quite compare. They’re last in their division, have played two more games than the 67’s and only had 11 points to Ottawa’s 27.

Windsor’s poor performance has been met with change. The team announced Nov. 20 that it fired head coach, Jerrod Smith, replaced by Casey Torres.

Whatever Torres has his team doing – it’s working. The Spitfires peppered the 67’s net early and often, but the Windsor squad wouldn’t get its first serious chance until about six minutes in.

Ottawa’s netminder, Max Donoso however kept the game at a stalemate until a puck was deflected into the stands injuring a patron.

The game came to halt, while staff patched up the patron. After some time, and an applause from both the teams and the fans, it was game on again.

And game on it was.

A minute after resumption of play, the 67’s went ahead 1-0 Ottawa thanks to centre, Brad Gardiner.

The lead didn’t last. A faceoff win in Ottawa’s end gave Windsor’s Oliver Peer time to put the puck past Donoso on the short side.

Peer would get two minutes for high sticking in the following play but Ottawa couldn’t convert on the powerplay, but not for lack of trying. That momentum continued to the end of the first period. Play was strictly in Windsor’s zone.

The second period saw chances for both teams. Ottawa right-winger, Kimi Körbler, got things started with a point-blank chance in front of Windsor’s net. He was denied by netminder, Ian Michelone.

Neither team could breakthrough even though Windsor had a five-minute power play that amounted to nothing. The second ended still tied 1-1 and anyone’s game to lose. 

The third started well for Ottawa with an early power play. 

With six seconds left in the advantage, 67’s’ Frankie Marrelli put a clean shot off the crossbar and into the net to regain his team’s advantage. The goal is Marelli’s fifth of the season.

Ottawa defenceman Frankie Marrelli chases after Windsor’s Carson Woodall. [Photo @ Rossy Pasternak] 

Marrelli, however, would also get a penalty not too long after – just what Windsor’s Liam Greentree needed to tie the game at two. 

It’s another score that wouldn’t last. Ottawa defenceman Henry Mews shovelled backhand into Windsor’s net to give his team a lead for the third time in the game.

But somewhere in TD place a broken record must have been playing, as Ottawa’s ability to hold a lead would again fall flat. From just above the hash marks, Zhugin tied the game for Spitfires. 

Adding fuel to fire, a strong solo effort by Greentree would be enough to cut through Ottawa’s defence and slide a pass to Peer to tap in his second of the night. The Spitfires had finally taken the lead.

With a handful of minutes to go, Windsor had cracked Ottawa’s code. Less than a minute left in the game, Greentree would make a diving effort to secure an empty net goal and the win.

On paper, it seemed Ottawa was had a good shot at a three-game win streak. Eight goals later and Windsor stepped off the ice with their sixth win of the season.

After the game, Gardiner spoke about his team’s performance over these past few days. 

“It’s been a grind,” he said. “I think you could tell by the end the boy’s legs were starting to get to them.”

Brad Gardiner (right) faces off against Jacob Maillet. [Photo @ Rossy Pasternak]

Gardiner said it was a good group effort from his team, and they just fell short of putting away some chances.

“I think there’s positives and obviously a lot to learn from that game.”

Gardiner and 67’s coach, Dave Cameron, agree about their team’s performance.

Cameron added that the 67’s are still working on not taking penalties.

“We’ve been really good,” he said. “But discipline is always a work in progress.”

Ottawa took two penalties this game, one of which Windsor converted. The 67’s play again against the Frontenacs in Kingston Wednesday.

Editor’s note: Devon Tredinnick is a fifth-year journalism student at Carleton University. He helped cover Ottawa’s premier league soccer team — Ottawa Atlético — for Capital Current this past season. He’s now bringing the same dedication coverage of the Ottawa 67’s.