Windsor Spitfires 2017 Memorial Cup Champions
Tyler Angle, Jeremiah Addison, Gabriel Vilardi, Chris Playfair, Adam Laishram, Logan Brown, Julius Nattinen, Cole Purboo, Hayden McCool, Graham Knott, Luke Boka, Aaron Luchuk, Cristiano DiGiacinto, Jeremy Bracco, Austin McEneny, Connor Corcoran, Logan Stanley, Daniel Robertson, Tyler Nother, Mikhail Sergachev, Jalen Chatfield, Sean Day, Mario Culina, Michael DiPietro
Head Coach - Rocky Thompson
Associate Coach - Trevor Letowski
Associate Coach - Jerrod Smith
General Manager - Warren Rychel
President - Bob Boughner
Vice President Hockey Operations - Bill Bowler
Director of Player Personnel & Head Scout - Brian Teakle
Shaking off a 44-day layoff, the Spitfires put together a perfect 10-day run at home to shock the field and claim the 99th MasterCard Memorial Cup.
A fiercely intense, furiously paced first period of hockey saw end-to-end action, blocked shots and big saves on both sides of the puck.
The much sought-after first goal went to the Spitfires as Bracco converted on Windsor’s first power play of the night. The shifty winger jumped on a loose puck off a goalmouth scramble, sliding a puck through the legs of the stickless Otters goalie Timpano at 13:01, and the team that scored first in all eight games in this tournament ended up winning.
The Otters would respond though as captain Dylan Strome scored his seventh of the tournament just 49 seconds later. Strome’s quick wrister off the post and in came on a tremendous display of patience from defenceman Darren Raddysh who held the puck in at the offensive blue line before finding an open Strome for the finish with a cross-ice feed.
The Otters would get lead the early in the second period as Warren Foegele appeared to kick a power-play goal in for the Otters on the power play at at 5:35 to put Erie up. The play was reviewed and the goal stood, much to the displeasure of the crowd.
It marked the first time the Spitfires had trailed in the tournament, but before the fan booing could subside, Logan Stanley tied it for the Spitfires 52 seconds later at 2-2.
The Otters regained the lead, pulling ahead 3-2 on a goal from blueliner TJ Fergus at 12:41. Erie’s fourth line of Ivan Lodnia, German Poddubnyi and Cameron Lizotte got the Otters on the board as the puck got back to the point for Fergus who fired a low release off a Spitfires defender and past DiPietro.
The Spitfires went on the power play under two minutes later, setting up a perfectly executed passing play with Graham Knott providing the finish with his third of the tournament at 14:53. The Spitfires worked the puck down low for a cross-crease feed from Gabriel Vilardi to give him his second assist of the game and seventh of the tournament.
The two clubs ended the second period tied at three as Erie led on the shot clock 24-17.
Luchuk delivered the game-winning goal in the third period on a great play from Bracco. He went wide on the defence on a line change, held the puck and played for space before finally delivering the puck to Luchuk racing from the bench and he fired home the winner.
The Otters made a late push, hitting a goal post inside the final two minutes of play but big saves from DiPietro carried the Spits to the final buzzer as they streamed onto the ice in celebration.
The Spitfires tied the Kamloop’s Blazers Memorial Cup record with the team’s 12th-straight game won. After losing the first two games at the 2009 Memorial, Windsor won four-straight game to take the title, won four straight the following year in Brandon and took all four games in Windsor.
The Spitfires third title follows other championships in 2009 and 2010 and equals the Cornwall Royals (1972, 1980, 1981) and the Blazers (1992, 1994, 1995) for the most championships won since the introduction of the round robin format in 1972.
Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel (2009, 2010, 2017) joins Matt Leyden (Oshawa Generals, 1939, 1940, 1944) and Bob Brown (Kamloops Blazers, 1992, 1994, 1995) as the third GM in Mastercard Memorial Cup history to win three career championships.
The Spits played to an overall record of 4-0 at the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup, outscoring opponents 18-8.
Seventeen-year-old goaltender Michael DiPietro earned the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s most outstanding goaltender. The native of nearby Amherstburg, Ont. went 4-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
Erie Otters captain Dylan Strome received the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Mastercard Memorial Cup MVP. Strome led the tournament in goal-scoring with seven over his four contests, one shy of a tournament record. He finished tied with teammate Taylor Raddysh for the tournament lead in points with 11 (4-7–11).
Bracco, who led the Spitfires in scoring with eight points (3-5–8), became the 24th player in tournament history to hoist the Memorial Cup in the same year as having won World Junior Hockey Championship gold. Bracco claimed World Junior supremacy with the United States in January, becoming the first Spitfires player to accomplish both feats since Cam Fowler did so in 2010.