Spitfires are taking flight

December 4, 2023

A change in head coaches has thus far led to a well timed turnaround for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.

Spitfires scoring leader Liam Greentree. (Windsor Star photo)

The Spitfires had lost eight in a row, were reeling with a record of 4-16-1 and had allowed almost six goals per game — 125 in 21 outings — when general manager Billy Bowler fired first-year head coach Jerrod Smith.

But since Casey Torres was elevated from assistant coach to interim head coach of the Spitfires, the reversal in fortunes has been noticeable. Under Torres — and with Bowler the GM also on the bench — the Spitfires have a 3-2-0 record in five games and have allowed just 13 goals. In fact, not including empty net tallies, the Spitfires have allowed just five goals in their past three games while winning two of them, the most recent triumph being a 3-0 win over the Guelph Storm in which Ian Michelone posted the shutout.

Spitfires defenseman Connor Toms. (Photo by Bob Davies)

Even more striking is the fact that all five games with Torres as the Spitfires interim head coach have been played on the road.

Leading the way for the Spitfires this season has been 2006 birth year forward Liam Greentree, who has scored 17 goals to date, including four in the five games that Torres has been the head coach. With size on his side at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, Greentree is considered a good prospect for the 2024 National Hockey League draft.

Meanwhile, one player whose plus-minus numbers have greatly improved since the coaching change is 19-year old defenseman Connor Toms, who was acquired by the Spitfires from the Soo Greyhounds on October 30.

Toms, who has played in 12 games for the Spitfires, had an abysmal plus-minus rating while Smith was the head coach but has been even since Torres took over. A sidebar example, perhaps, but one to take note of as part of the recent resurgence in Windsor.

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