Windsor Spitfires Prepare to Open 2022-2023 Ontario Hockey League Season
Following their shortest off-season in franchise history, the Windsor Spitfires prepare to open their 2022-2023 season on Saturday night, October 1 when they host the Sarnia Sting at the WFCU Centre.
The Spitfires final game of the 2021-2022 OHL season came on June 15 when they lost 6-1 in game seven of the OHL championship series to the Hamilton Bulldogs. As a result of COVID protocols, including and especially the frequent re-scheduling of games, that contest came later in the year than in any season since the team entered the then-Ontario Major Junior A Hockey (OMJHL) back in 1975-76.
All four Memorial Cup tournaments that the franchise has participated in (1988 – Chicoutimi) (2009 – Rimouski) 2010 and (2017 – Windsor ) all finished earlier in June than did the final game for the Spitfires last OHL season. The Spitfires, coincidentally, have won three of the Memorial Cup tournaments in which they have participated. They lost in the 1988 tournament championship 7-6 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, who capture their second consecutive Memorial Cup with the win over Windsor.
The 2022-2023 Spitfires concluded their exhibition season on September 24 with a 6-1 win over the Sting at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena. The win extended the Spits’ pre-season winning streak to three and a 4-2 exhibition record overall.
The overall success and complexion of the Spitfires season hinges on whether two key players – centre Wyatt Johnston and right-winger Matthew Maggio return from the training camps of the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars and New York Islanders respectively. Johnston, who lead both the Spitfires and the entire OHL in scoring last season with46 goals and 78 assists in 68 games, was the first round pick, 23rd overall, of the Stars in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Maggio, who notched 38 goals in Windsor last season, was selected by the Islanders in the fifth round of the NHL’s player lottery last summer round last summer. After attending New York’s main training camp earlier this week, the Tecumseh native was assigned to the Islanders’ top farm team in the American Hockey League. That reality does not, however, preclude him from returning to the Spitfires at some time this season, possibly even soon.
If these two do not return, the Spitfires, who lead the league in scoring last season and also during the recently-concluded exhibition season, should still have no difficulty in finding the back of opposition nets this season regardless. A group of nine returning forwards that includes centres Ryan Abraham and Jacob Maillett, left-wingers Ethan Miedema, Colton Smith (acquired over the summer in a trade with the London Knights) and Christopher O’Flaherty and right-wingers Alex Christopoulos and Oliver Peer
In addition to Maggio, another possible overage forward is left-winger Josh Currie, who joined the Spitfires mid-way through 2021-2022 in a trade with the North Bay Centennials.
First-year forwards on the Spitfires include AJ Spellacy (c), Noah Morneau (c), Jackson McLlwain (lw), Liam Greentree (rw) and Ethan Martin (c). McLwain and Martin did see limited action with the Spitfires in 2021-2022 too.
On the back end, the blueline corps is anchored by veterans Michael Renwick,
Daniil Sobolev, Nicholas DeAngelis, Bronson Ride and James Jodoin all of whom will assist in the development of youngsters Anthony Cristoforo, Windsor’s first round pick in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection and Tomas Hebek, the Spitfires’ 2022 import pick from Hradec Kralove, Czechia.
There’s a crowded crease in net where overagers Matt Onuska and Xavier Medina are vying for the starting goaltending position while two sophomore puckstoppers. are battling for the backup spot. Kyle Downey played 11 games for the Spitfires last season while Joey Costanzo, who was acquired earlier this week from the Niagara Ice Dogs in exchange for a pair of future draft choices, saw action in 17 games in his rookie OHL season.
After their season-opener against the Sting the Spitfires return to action on Thursday, October 6 when they host the Sudbury Wolves at the WFCU Centre.