3 Takes from 2022-23 Northern Swing


The cliche “it’s not the way you begin, however the way you end” could be becoming for the Windsor Spitfires this previous weekend. On a season-long, five-game highway journey, they discovered a solution to battle by means of accidents and inconsistent hockey to complete robust. Now, they’re prepared for some residence cooking.

Three weeks in the past, the Spitfires had a makeover on the 2023 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) commerce deadline. Everybody knew it could take time to regulate. After two residence video games with the brand new roster, they instantly hit the highway for 5 video games over two weekends, together with the annual northern highway swing. Whereas it was a very good likelihood for the roster to bond, enjoying on the highway isn’t straightforward for the very best of golf equipment. They discovered themselves looking for consistency as groups regarded to take them out. Nonetheless, a robust end to this previous weekend provides them loads of momentum heading residence.

3 Takeaways from Northern Highway Swing

Weekend Outcomes:

Thurs., Jan. 26 – 5-3 loss at North Bay Battalion
Fri., Jan. 27 – 3-2 loss at Sudbury Wolves
Solar., Jan. 29 – 9-4 win at Soo Greyhounds

3. On-Ice Management as Necessary as Locker Room

Earlier than the deadline, the membership emphasised how necessary their off-ice cohesion and chemistry are. They had been as tight-knit a membership as we’ve seen in a very long time and normal supervisor Invoice Bowler didn’t need to upset that. On the deadline, he introduced in two former captains, Shane Wright and Jacob Holmes, plus three different veterans who had been good within the room. From all indications thus far, the transition has been seamless. Nonetheless, having management on the ice is proving simply as necessary as it’s within the room.

Shedding a toe-to-toe battle on Thursday with a prime contender within the Battalion wasn’t enjoyable, however the loss to the Wolves on Friday damage much more. That membership is battling for the ultimate playoff spot within the Jap Convention, however the Spitfires got here out flat and confirmed little life in entrance of a jam-packed Sudbury Group Area. They knew it was unacceptable. Whereas head coach Marc Savard gave them a chat, captain Matthew Maggio wasn’t comfortable concerning the outcome. He took cost on Sunday within the Soo with a four-point effort, giving him a league-leading 68 factors by means of 43 video games. The opposite veterans didn’t go quietly, both, as six of them, together with Holmes (Dallas Stars), Alex Christopoulos, and Michael Renwick, all had two-point afternoons. In whole, 11 gamers had a degree, which makes an enormous assertion.

Matthew Maggio Windsor Spitfires
Windsor Spitfires’ captain Matthew Maggio. (Dave Jewell / The Hockey Writers)

Earlier than the beginning of the five-game journey, Maggio mentioned they needed first general in case the OHL Championship goes to Sport 7. The Spitfires now sit simply six factors again of the Ottawa 67’s for first within the league. They’ve every kind of expertise and management however, if they need that primary spot, they should carry it each evening.

2. Accidents Play a Issue

The membership started their five-game journey with goaltender Mathias Onuska and ahead Ryan Abraham on the shelf with accidents. On the primary weekend, they misplaced defenceman Daniil Sobolev and ahead Oliver Peer to accidents and the woes continued up north.

Ryan Abraham, Windsor Spitfires
Windsor Spitfires’ ahead Ryan Abraham. (Dave Jewell / The Hockey Writers)

Whereas they bought Peer again, they needed to go with out Wright (Seattle Kraken) attributable to a lower-body damage suffered in apply. He was listed as day-to-day all through the weekend however didn’t play. The membership was compelled to name up Junior B forwards Nick Graniero and Wylie Birkett. Neither registered a degree however they noticed loads of motion, particularly on Sunday, and gave Savard sufficient our bodies to roll 4 strains. When the staff’s on the again finish of an extended journey, that’s an enormous asset. The membership additionally signed 2022 fourth-round decide ahead Cole Davis and he might make his debut shortly.

Associated: OHL: 5 Spitfires’ Tales to Watch within the Second Half of 2022-23

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All season, Savard has raved about their general depth and the way each line can contribute on any given evening. That depth got here into play all weekend because the coaches did their finest to get the appropriate line mixtures. It’s by no means a straightforward process, however they discovered their stride throughout Sunday’s sport towards the Greyhounds. We’ll see if they’ll get a number of the injured gamers again into the lineup this weekend.

1. House Cooking Wanted

Highway journeys are by no means straightforward, however a convincing 9-4 win over the divisional rival Greyhounds is satisfying, particularly within the final sport earlier than heading residence.

Earlier than the highway journey, the membership was 11-6-1-0 away from the WFCU Centre, a far cry from their 16-3-2-1 file at residence, which is simply second within the league behind the 67’s. The Spitfires have averaged 5,537 followers (capability 6,250) over 5 video games since Christmas and 5,874 in two post-deadline video games. The gamers and coaches have mentioned that they feed off of that power and it might be precisely what they want proper now as they enter the weekend only one level forward of the London Knights for the highest seed within the convention.

This weekend, they begin a three-game homestand — a rematch with the Greyhounds on Thursday adopted by a 2022 OHL Championship rematch with the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday evening, and the always-tough Owen Sound Assault on Sunday evening. The Bulldogs sport will probably be a particular evening because the membership celebrates Superheroes, carrying Thor-inspired jerseys. As of Monday afternoon, the sport is 80 p.c offered out.

None of those video games will probably be straightforward and the Spitfires have had points with every membership this season. Nonetheless, after being on the highway for almost two-straight weekends, some residence cooking, household, and pals will probably be a welcomed sight.

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