Don’t look now but the Windsor Spitfires have ignited their Motor City engines.
As recent as a few weeks ago, the Spitfires were being written as a rebuilding team rather than a major threat for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season.
As part of a strong 10-team Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League, the Spitfires were not seen as being in the same class as the Erie Otters, Guelph Storm, Soo Greyhounds and London Knights.
As a matter-of-fact, the Spitfires traded veterans Kerby Rychel, Nick Ebert and Ryan Verbeek in early December in a pair of deals that netted Windsor two players and 10 future draft picks.
But Windsor is on a roll.
The Spitfires have won seven of their last 10 games to improve to 32-18-2 on the season, good for 66 points.
While those 66 points put the Spitfires in fifth place in the Western Conference behind Guelph, Erie, the Soo and London, Windsor would be in second spot if it were in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re probably in the hardest conference in junior hockey,” Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel told the Windsor Star. “There’s four super teams ahead of us. This is the craziest year I’ve ever seen. We could have 40 wins and finish in fifth place. That’s crazy.”
The Spitfires may not be in a position to make a run for the OHL title this season but they have the pieces in place — and more to come with that stockpile of draft picks — to become a contender in the very near future.
Spitfires head coach Bob Boughner, the former OHL Greyhound defenceman who piloted the Spitfires to back-to-back Memorial Cup titles in 2009 and 2010, likes the resolve of his team.
“We’ve beaten all the good teams in the league,” Boughner said. “We’ve proven to ourselves that if we play a team game we’re going to be okay.”
PHOTO: 1994 birth year forward Brady Vail, who leads the Windsor Spitfires in scoring with 24 goals, 43 assists, 67 points as of Feb. 8, is a National Hockey League prospect of the Montreal Canadiens. (OHL photo.)