Spitfires team for the ages

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

BRANDON — Thanks a lot, Kitchener.

There were three teams at the Memorial Cup left cursing the Rangers Sunday night.

“I’m sure they are,” Spitfires captain Harry Young said of Kitchener, which had Windsor down 3-0 in the OHL playoffs but couldn’t seal the deal.

If anything, it just made the defending champs angry.

After rallying against the Rangers, they steamrolled everything in their path, winning 12 straight to repeat as Memorial Cup champions.

The Spitfires dealt with adversity both years. Last spring, it was a comeback from an 0-2 start at the tournament that proved the team’s mettle.

“This is a resilient bunch,” Young said. “You can knock us down, but you can’t keep us down. That’s the kind of group we’ve got here. Too many close friends and too many guys who want to win to let that happen.”

The Spitfires went through this tourney untouched.

The 9-1 pounding they handed the Brandon Wheat Kings in Sunday’s final tied the record for the most-lopsided score in Cup history.

The Toronto Marlboros gave the Quebec Remparts a similar 9-1 thrashing in 1973.

By becoming the eighth team in history to repeat, the Spitfires now must be part of the conversation when debating who is the greatest junior team of all time.

The Kamloops Blazers — the last team to successfully defend their title — are considered by many to be at the top of the list.

Spitfires defenceman Ryan Ellis said he wasn’t sure where his club should be slotted.

After skating around the ice celebrating, he didn’t care.

“They won it three out of four years, so that’s pretty awesome,” Ellis said of the Blazers team which won in 1992, ’94 and ’95. “It’s amazing to even get here three years. We’re just living in the moment right now.”

Young said his squad should be at least considered as the top dog.

“I’m sure we’re right up there,” he said. “I can’t imagine too many teams have started the Memorial Cup 0-2 and have come back, like we did last year. And this year, we were down 0-3 in the playoffs and came back.

“It’s just as sweet the second time around. We’ve made a little history here, especially in Windsor. I’m so proud to be a part of this.”

Taylor Hall, the tournament’s top scorer and MVP, wasn’t interested in entering any discussions on whether his team is the best ever.

“I don’t know about that,” Hall said. “We wanted to compete hard every game, and that’s a true sign of a champion — when you come off the floor.”

There’s no question the Spitfires had an incredible lineup. Four Team Canada world juniors stars — Hall, Adam Henrique, Greg Nemisz and Greg Ellis — and American Cam Fowler gave Windsor a top end no team could match.

Fowler duplicated Ellis’ feat of winning a world junior gold medal and a Memorial Cup in the same season, the 21st player to accomplish the feat.

Ellis said there will be time to reflect on just how special this team is. But that time is not right now.

“It’s tough to put into words right now and really think about what we’ve done,” Ellis said. “When we get some time in the summer, everyone will realize how special of a team we had.”


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