Spitfires get clutch performance

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

His playoff mustache is massive.

He has sported the same hideously ripped hockey pants since way back in August.

But no one wears the hero role quite as well as Windsor Spitfires forward Dale Mitchell.

Down by two through 40 minutes and his Memorial Cup dream on the brink, the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect scored a natural hat trick in 3:33 early in the third to cap a come-from-behind 6-4 win to shock the host Oceanic before 4,478 last night at the Rimouski Colisee.

“Who doesn’t want to be the hero,” the 20-year-old from Mississauga said. “There’s unbelievable character on this team. I knew this might’ve been my final game in junior hockey and I didn’t want to go out a loser.

“We knew we couldn’t get it all back on one shift. I hadn’t been producing like I should in this tournament and the coaches told me that.

“I just went out there to make something happen.”

He made three things happen for the lightning quick trick. The Cup record for fastest three goals is 1:12 by Joe Contini against New Westminster in 1976.

“Whoever did that was really something,” the five-foot-nine, 200-pound Mitchell said. “All these threes, it’s getting scary.”

And now the hosts are toast. The OHL champion Spitfires will meet the banged-up Drummondville Voltigeurs tonight in the semifinal for a berth in Sunday’s championship game against Kelowna.

No team has ever gone from the tie-breaker game to Cup champion. No one in this tournament has won the second of back-to-back games.

“We didn’t really play at all in the first two games here,” Windsor defenceman Ryan Ellis said, “so we should have lots of gas in the tank.”

For anyone willing to listen, Drummondville head coach Guy Boucher can go over a long list of woes on his roster.

Chris DiDomenico, another Leafs pick, has missed the entire tournament with a broken leg. Maxime Frenette, who scored the overtime winner against Windsor in the round-robin, has a broken ankle.

“Everyone’s hurt, everybody’s sick,” Boucher said. “Gabriel Dumont (the hero against Rimouski on Wednesday) is the six-million dollar man. He’s hurt everywhere. When I tell you at the end of the tournament what is wrong with him, you won’t believe it.

“And Dany Masse, I don’t know how he’s doing it. He basically played the league final on one leg and still going. The doctor, he grabs me and says, ‘That boy should be on an operating table.’”

The Spitfires have heard it all before.

“They said that before the first game, too,” Mitchell said. “We have to be ready. If I don’t play the way I did (tonight), then this was all for nothing.”


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