When HockeyNow published its Memorial Cup issue last week, we did a panel where four of us made our predictions for the tournament results. Three of us picked the Spitfires to finish last, with one of us figuring them for third.
Every one of us was wrong.
After the three-game round robin, the Spitfires are 3-0, earning them a bye to the final round as the team with the most points. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds were eliminated by the Saint John Sea Dogs, who were also facing elimination when the two teams met on Tuesday. Both teams were handed losses by the Spitfires and the Otters previously.
The Spitfires, who had a 44-day layoff between their first-round OHL playoff exit and this tournament, have looked rested and poised from the first puck drop on May 19, when they defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs in a tight 3-2 opening night.
Last night, the Spitfires gave notice that they are now the favourite to win this tournament.
Jeremiah Addison was a tremendous force in this game. The Montreal Canadiens prospect scored three times, the third bringing hats down upon the ice.
Each of Addison’s goals were assisted on by top NHL draft prospect Gabriel Vilardi, who also assisted on Mikhail Sergachev’s second-period goal for four assists.
Gabriel Vilardi set up all three of Addison's goals and earned a fourth assist on Mikhail Sergachev's first of the tournament as well. He had just one assist through the first two games, so Vilardi’s offensive breakout was a welcome development.
Julius Nattinen, who was somewhat of a disappointment for the Spitfires this season with just half of the points he had with the Colts last year, contributed with two assists. Although his regular season may have fallen short, his addition to the team looks shrewd now. He has four points through three games.
The Otters didn’t get their first shot until ten minutes into the first period, but goaltender Michael DiPietro still got the bulk of the work here, facing 35 shots as opposed to Troy Timpano’s 19. DiPietro held the Otters to two goals, an accomplishment considering that Erie had racked up 16 through the first two games.
Four of the shots DiPietro turned aside were from Alex DeBrincat, who led the CHL with 65 goals this season. He was held pointless in this game, though. Star prospect Dylan Strome was also kept of the scoresheet, despite his five shots.
Taylor Raddysh and Kyle Maksimovich scored the only two Otters goals.
While the Spits have earned a spot in the finals, the Otters will now have to battle the Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday night to earn a spot in the finals. Although the Otters devastated the Sea Dogs 12-5 during the round robin, expect a more composed Sea Dogs team this time around.
The winner of the semifinal between Erie and Saint John will take on Windsor at 7:00 on Sunday night. Tune in for the highest quality junior hockey you’ll see all year.
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