Spits take tame game

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

WINDSOR -- The Windsor Spitfires won Game 2 of The Rivalry last night.

Funny thing, though, it didn't feel like the usual London/Windsor rivalry.

It felt more like a stroll through the park.

It was a much more enjoyable stroll for the Spitfires who wound up with a 2-0 victory in Ontario Hockey League play in front of 6,520.

The first game of the renewed rivalry between the two OHL powerhouses, was won by the Knights, a 4-2 early-season decision at the John Labatt Centre when both teams were missing a number of players.

Last night's game belonged to the goaltenders.

Spitfires Troy Passingham stopped 33 shots for the shutout and while he wasn't as busy as his opposite number Michael Hutchinson in the Knights net, Passingham came through with some big saves when he needed.

Passingham had a lot of help. The Spitfires, who have had their struggles defensively, were strong against the puck.

"We just clamped down defensively and probably played our best defensive game . . . not too many hard shots," Passingham said.

Hutchinson had to make 43 saves and a half-dozen of them should have wound up in the net. He was outstanding.

"He played real well," said Knights' assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu. "He gave us a chance to win. It's too bad we couldn't play harder for him."

But it was the one that got away that bothered him. The first goal of the game was scored by Richard Panik in the second period when he came around from behind the net and stuffed the puck between Hutchinson's legs.

"You always want perfection. Those are the ones that bother you," he said. "I just lost the puck. It was a goal that took away the momentum from under us. I think the second goal is one that all of us on the ice wish we could have back. We would have all played that one differently."

That one was scored by Justin Shugg. He went in alone on Hutchinson and slid the puck in the corner of the net.

The Knights did hit three goal posts but after the second goal, the Spitfires took the ice, and game, away from them.

The tame nature of the game didn't sit well with Beaulieu.

"We've got to compete. We're not competing," Beaulieau said. "It's maddening for us when we don't compete. We don't much anything up. We played real cute. We're not going to win if we play cute. You've got to win battles. You've got to get the loose pucks and we aren't doing that."

Most of the team's good chances came on power plays but both high-powered power plays were shut out. The Knights went 0-6 and the Spitfires 0-8.

Neither team was stellar when it came to the juice department but the Spitfires did exert a lot of energy in protecting their lead.

If there was a weakness the Spitfires were supposed to have this year it was goaltending. They looked in real trouble when returning netminder Josh Unice went down with a knee injury in the third game of the season.

Mind you, he was pulled in the first two games he started.

Steve Gleeson, a goaltender the Spitfires had hoped would take over, went home during training camp and no amount of talking could convince him to come back.

So the Spitfires went out and got Troy Passingham as a free agent. In eight appearances he has a 5-1 record and a 2.09 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.

Beaulieu is familiar with Passingham. He coached the goalie with Saint Johns Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"I liked him," Beaulieu. "He was square to the puck. I just wish he had been a little more competitive at times. But he was good tonight."

Beaulieu was also less than happy with the effort of his top players.

"Your best players have to be your best players," he said. "I'm not sure they were tonight."

Beaulieu left the WFCU Centre with a warning.

"If the players don't want to work hard in a game, there are other ways of working hare and we'll find them," he said.

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Spitfires 2, Knights 0

Goals: Windsor -- Richard Panik, Justin Shugg.

Next: The Plymouth Whalers today at the JLC at 7:30 p.m.


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