As the 2022-23 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Playoffs begin peaking over the horizon (early April), the Windsor Spitfires are beginning to understand the potential they envisioned at January’s commerce deadline. After returning residence for a three-game residence stand to finish January, the membership received two veterans again this previous weekend and continued their push to a convention title.
To say January was a rollercoaster could be placing it mildly. After a number of trades, a number of accidents, a five-game street journey, and a three-game residence stand, they’ve come out close to the highest of the OHL’s Western Conference battered, bruised, and keen to maintain preventing. Nothing was going to return straightforward and that lesson continued this previous weekend. However, getting two veterans again was an enormous spark as they start to regain a full lineup. Here are three takeaways from the weekend.
3 Takeaways from Firebirds, Greyhounds, and Spirit
Wed., Feb. 8 – 9-3 win at Flint Firebirds
Thurs., Feb. 9 – 5-4 OT win vs. Soo Greyhounds
Sat., Feb. 11 – 5-2 win at Saginaw Spirit
3. Onuska and Costanzo Provide 1-2 Punch in Goal
All season the Spitfires have been hoping that veteran goaltender Mathias Onuska could be their man for a return to the OHL Championship (misplaced in Game 7 in 2021-22). With 17-year-old Joey Costanzo enjoying effectively as his backup, all of it seemed strong… till it wasn’t.
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Costanzo constantly carried out effectively, constructing belief with head coach Marc Savard, whereas accidents and inconsistency hampered Onuska’s bid to regain his 2021-22 type. In early January, the veteran suffered an damage and the teenager took over. However, regardless of his success, the membership wants each over the long run.
Fortunately, the Spitfires received excellent news on Thursday as Onuska made his return. Despite permitting three early targets, he settled in and made 29 saves for the win. Following the sport, Savard mentioned he didn’t blame the veteran for the early deficit.
“I called a timeout (after the third goal) and we had a bit of a chat,” he mentioned. “Onuska’s first game back, I thought he was sharp and for us to hang him out to dry there early was disrespectful to me and I let them know.”
Onuska’s had an unlucky run with accidents relationship again to late final season. However, he mentioned on Thursday that he’s “back to normal” and seems like his 2021-22 self. Now, he and Costanzo can run collectively and he’s been impressed with how the teenager has performed thus far.
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“It’s great to see Joey’s success,” Onuska mentioned. “He’s a young kid and I’m really happy for him. He’s helped us out and done a great job, won a lot of games. It’s just great to see.”
If the Spitfires can get these two at their full potential, mixed with an offence that’s averaging almost 5 targets per recreation, they’re going to be a troublesome membership to cease.
2. Spreading Around the Points
All season Savard has proven pleasure about his membership’s depth; that potential to unfold out the factors no matter which line is on the ice. That pattern continued on the weekend.
On Thursday, all 4 ahead strains contributed and 10 gamers had not less than one level. During the Wednesday and Saturday street video games, 11 gamers (mixed) had not less than one level, together with ahead Ryan Abraham, who performed in his first recreation on Wednesday since being injured in late November.
It’s not at all times a matter of ice time however starvation to attempt for the betterment of the membership. Players are shopping for into the programs and the tradition. Savard mentioned when gamers get hungry for outcomes, it reveals on the ice.
“That’s one thing here, every guy is hungry and they want to get results,” Savard mentioned. “That’s kind of what I’ve driven from day one. We want to get results. It’s nice to be on the outside and do things but you’re going to help your team win by getting results. A lot of guys are getting stuff accomplished. They’re working hard and every guy is hungry. It’s showing on the scoreboard. ”
While captain Matthew Maggio (New York Islanders) leads the workforce with 84 factors in 49 video games, which additionally leads the OHL by eight factors over the North Bay Battalion’s Matvey Petrov, the Spitfires have loads of depth with six gamers on tempo for not less than 60 factors. No matter who’s thrown out onto the ice, the road has an opportunity of scoring. This is with ahead Shane Wright out, too. Once they add him again to the combination, it’s prone to enhance that rather more.
1. Playoff-Style Hockey is Here
The theme all season is that there are not any dangerous groups within the OHL. You’re going to be examined on a nightly foundation and, in case you take anybody flippantly, you’re in for a protracted night time. With February in full swing, each recreation is just like the playoffs, whether or not it’s a high-scoring contest or a grind-em-out fashion. The Spitfires are now ranked 10th in Canada so groups will likely be aiming to knock them down a number of pegs. Savard mentioned hockey received’t at all times be good however it’s a must to discover methods to win.
“It’s not always going to be perfect,” Savard mentioned. “We don’t need to be perfect … good teams find a way to win.”
Onuska was part of the membership’s hard-fought 13-game profitable streak final season, plus their run to the OHL Championship. He echoed what Savard mentioned – you received’t at all times have your greatest however that doesn’t imply you stop.
“You have to find different ways to win in this league,” Onuska mentioned. “It’s not always going to be the best start or different styles of play. We found a way to win (on Thursday) and that’s what good teams do.”
With the Spitfires battling the London Knights, Sarnia Sting, and others for the Western Conference title, plus the Ottawa 67’s and North Bay Battalion for the general OHL common season title, each recreation goes to be a playoff-style match. Savard mentioned he informed his workforce that this may be the “best Soo team” they confronted this season and he was proper. From right here on out, that’s prone to be the case with any workforce, too. Whether it’s battling for a convention title, residence ice, or simply making the playoffs (because the Greyhounds are), groups are giving it all the things they’ve. You can’t ask for a lot better hockey to look at.