Fresh off loading up at the trade deadline for a third straight title run, the Windsor Spitfires got a chance to show off the new weapons in their arsenal, outgunning the Ottawa 67’s 6-3 on Friday night at the Rona Centre.
And it was the new additions that did most of the damage for the Spitfires, with big gunners Jake Carrick and Taylor Carnevale, as well as depth acquisition Jeff Brown all figuring in the scoring.
Carrick finished with two goals and two assists, Carnevale had a pair of assists, and Brown had one goal and an assist.
If the 67’s wanted a chance to test their mettle post-deadline, they got it in spades with the two-time defending Memorial Cup champs, kicking off a weekend that also pits the 67’s against division rival Oshawa Generals and the league-leading Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, both on the road.
Ottawa coach Chris Byrne said his team has a lot to learn from the defending champs.“They played well, and I think our guys realize there's another level to get to here,” said Byrne. “We don't like losing, but this is a night where we find out a bit about our team, and we've got some things to work on.”
On Friday, the teams traded chances early and emerged from the first period tied 1-1 after Alexander Khokhlachev opened the scoring at 3:53 on a setup from Carrick.
Tyler Toffoli extended his points streak to 24 games with his first of two on the night, rifling a shot past Jack Campbell with 29 seconds left in the opening frame after Shane Prince found Toffoli alone at the right circle.
Toffoli scored his second from almost the exact same spot on the ice on a second-period power play. On that goal, his 40th of the season, Toffoli was parked all alone at the faceoff dot waiting for the Ryan Martindale feed for a one-timer that went right through Campbell.
But the Spitfires roared back with two quick strikes coming 20 seconds apart.
After making fans wait for nearly 10 minutes early in the second while reviewing an apparent Carnevale goal, only to rule the big centre knocked the net off its moorings before pushing the puck over the line, officials apparently lost their appetite for video review.
Replays showed Stephen Johnston’s stick was at least at crossbar level while tipping in a point shot to tie it, but officials refused to call upstairs despite pleas from the Ottawa bench.
Brown put the Spitfires ahead 20 seconds later on a nifty feed from Ryan Ellis.
Carrick scored his first of two at 14:08 of the second, sparking a heavyweight tilt between Dalton Smith and Zack Kassian, a dustup that went the distance and left both bruisers exhausted after each absorbing some heavy hits.
After Martindale scored in the third period, Kassian put the game away with his 18th of the season with 1:06 left on the clock.
Spitfires GM Warren Rychel was pleased with what he saw from the new faces.
“Carrick was a force on the wall, he had a couple of real nice goals, and Carnevale was great on the faceoffs and he picked up a couple of assists. Brown is a junkyard dog, he plays hard. He had one shift there where he got (one goal and one assist) in 20 seconds. He doesn't give you an inch, and he's tough to play against.”
“I like our guys,” said Rychel. “Obviously we won't ever be able to put together a team like we had last year, that was a special team, I don't think anyone's going to see a team like that for a while. We're going to have to win by committee, and I thought the new guys did a real good job.”