Windsor comeback 'was pretty special'

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

The London Knights could be excused if they believe what they're seeing is a ghost on the ice tonight in Windsor.

The Windsor Spitfires were supposed to be dead and buried. No one gave them much of a chance to begin with against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. When they went down 3-0 in the best-of-seven OHL quarter-final series, the eulogy was lines from being completed.

They came back to tie the series 3-3 but trailed 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of Game 7 in Sault Ste. Marie. The funeral choir was warming up.

But that's no ghost on the ice. The Spitfires came back from three games down in the series and 2-0 down in Game 7 to defeat the Greyhounds 3-2 in overtime, their third overtime win in their past four games.

After seven games, about 3,000 kilometres and three overtime games, the Windsor reward is a semifinal against the record-setting London Knights, a team that has lost seven games all season.

The Spitfires are happy to be there.

"It was pretty special winning that way," coach Dave Prpich said. "The guys were drained. The bus was real quiet. But there was kind of a feeling of satisfaction."

Shock is another word.

This being the playoffs, words are weighed against the motivational value should they find themselves on an opposition team's bulletin board. No one will say publicly they believed Windsor had no chance of being here.

Most of the focus was on preparing for the Kitchener Rangers. Kitchener or Windsor? There's not much doubt who the preferred opponent was.

The Knights face a team they've beaten six times, one that's tired and without top goal-scorer Ryan Garlock, who is out for the season after elbow surgery.

Does that sound like a recipe for overconfidence?

"Throw all that out the window," Knights assistant coach Jeff Perry said. "Windsor's riding a high, a four-game winning streak, three in overtime. We know a dangerous team is the team with momentum. They should be tired, but it's a double-edged sword."

It would be easy to look over, around and past the Spitfires. But you don't come back from 3-0 down in a series without having some guts. Prpich has them believing in themselves. It's going to take a lot more than just belief against the Knights, but the Spitfires have something to build on.

"They are not just the best team in Canada, they are one of the best teams I've ever seen. I've been in the league since 1985," Prpich said of the Knights.

"We're the big-time underdog here. That's not a bad spot to be. No one is expecting you to do anything. Maybe that was part of our success in Round 1. People had us written off.

"We have to wait for the breaks. We can't get into a run-and-gun. If we get into a run-and-gun, we're going to be beaten pretty easily. We have to give ourselves a chance to play and compete in every game. We've had a couple of decent games against them and that might help us draw a little bit of enthusiasm."

The Spitfires had leads of 3-1 and 3-0 in those games, but couldn't hold on. The Spitfires had the Knights down 3-0 after 13 minutes, threatening the Knights' undefeated streak at the start of the season. The Knights won 4-3.

There are some advantages for the Spitfires. They open at home because the John Labatt Centre isn't available and the Knights have been off for nine days, so they'll be rusty.

In recent visits by the Knights, the Windsor Arena has been quiet, with empty seats. If nothing else, the Spitfires' remarkable comeback will wake it up.

The Spitfires will need all that and lot more to keep this series respectable.


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