Windsor Spitfires – The Spitfires were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs this year by the London Knights. This means that they haven’t played a game in 6 weeks – which can be seen as good news or bad news. As you would expect, the players will likely be a little bit rusty in the early parts of this tournament BUT all players are finally healthy – they had lost over 130 man-games this season due to injuries. During the regular season they finished 5th in the Western Conference, which sounds mediocre but is much better than it sounds. The Western Conference in the OHL has been much stronger in recent history than the Eastern Conference (if any of the top 5 teams from the regular season in the Western Conference were in the Eastern Conference they would have finished in the top spot).
The Spitfires top three scorers in the regular season can be found at positions 12, 42 and 46 in league scoring. NHL drafted forwards include: Graham Knott (CHI), Jeremiah Addison (MTL), Logan Brown (OTT), Julius Nattinen (ANA), Cristiano DiGiacinto (TB) and Jeremy Bracco (TOR). On defence you will find 6’7″ Logan Stanley (WPG), personable Mikhail Sergachev (MTL), Jalen Chatfield (VAN) and Sean Day (NYR). Likely top 10 draft pick for this June’s NHL draft is centre Gabriel Villardi.
During the regular season, starting goalie Michael DiPietro landed on the leader board in all 4 of the major statistical categories (tied for first in shutouts this season with six).
The Windsor Spitfires will have the home crowd advantage – but many question marks remain for this squad.
Erie Otters – The Otters needed only 22 games to earn the title of OHL Champion. They were pushed to 7 games by perennial powerhouse London Knights in the second round and ran into a formidable opponent in the Western Conference Finals against the Owen Sound Attack (6 game series). Their final series against the Mississauga Steelheads was competitive with 4 of the 5 games decided by only 1 goal (Otters winning 3 of those 4 games). The final game was an emotional home ice overtime win where the tying goal was scored with just 1:15 remaining in the game – the game winning goal coming only 2:41 into the extra frame.
Undrafted coming into the OHL, Alex DeBrincat has rattled off 3 straight 50 goal seasons. In his 55 playoffs games over those 3 seasons, he has 73 points and 152 shots on goal. He is very difficult to get off the puck. Dylan Strome is another offensive sparkplug. In his 69 playoff games (over 4 seasons) he has 86 points and 7 game winning goals. Forward Warren Foegele had a fabulous OHL Championship series. In the series, he amassed 5 goals and 3 assists earning the series MVP award. Anthony Cirelli brings his experience from the Oshawa Generals’ Memorial Cup Championship of 2015 to the Otters. The former Canadian World Junior member has 3 game winning goals this post-season and leads the OHL in playoffs goals with 15 in his 22 games. Other NHL drafted players on the Otters include Taylor Raddysh (recently signed 3 year entry deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning), 6’4” Kyle Pettit (VAN), and solid defencemen Jordan Sambrook (DET) and Erik Cernak (LA). Starting Goalie Troy Timpano appears on 3 of the 4 lists for goalie supremacy in the OHL this season.