Quick surge lifts Spitfires over Thunderbirds

WINDSOR, Ont. — The Windsor Spitfires look like they belong with the best.

Logan Brown capped three goals in a 38-second span and added two assists as Windsor toppled the Western Hockey League champion Seattle Thunderbirds 7-1 on Sunday for its second straight win at the Memorial Cup.

The Spitfires were bounced by the London Knights in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League’s post-season and went 44 days without game action prior to playing for the Canadian Hockey League’s biggest prize.

They got their spot in the Memorial Cup as hosts rather than league champions, but have beaten two of the three CHL champions in round-robin action.

“We’re here to play,” said Brown. ”People may not have confidence in us with us losing in the first round but we want to prove it, we want to win it.

“We’re a great team, put in all the effort, month and a half we were grinding and we want to prove people wrong.”

Brown and his linemates were a force on Sunday. Left-winger Graham Knott potted a pair with an assist and right-winger Jeremy Bracco added a goal and a helper as the trio combined for eight points.

“My line was generating a lot of offence, causing turnovers, (Jeremy) and (Logan) were unbelievable and made it easy for me,” said Knott.

“We just compliment each other, (Jeremy) is a great passer, me and (Logan) can work down low, our chemistry is getting a lot better and hopefully we can continue.”

The Spitfires, at worst, are guaranteed a spot in the semifinal. Seattle has to win its next game against the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Saint John Sea Dogs (0-1) just to force a tie-breaker scenario, or its season is over.

Windsor opened its tournament with a 3-2 win over the Sea Dogs. Seattle fell 4-2 to the OHL champion Erie Otters (1-0) in its first game.

“There’s not one player in there satisfied just to be here, for various reasons we’re not playing our best,” said Thunderbirds coach Steve Konowalchuk.

“Certain guys have to execute better, uncharacteristic of our team. We can clean it up, we’re not done. We have to win next game.”

Sami Moilanen nearly scored for Seattle on the game’s very first shift with a wraparound but Michael DiPietro reached back to pull the puck away from the goal line. The save proved to be big as the Spitfires responded with three quick ones, tying the Memorial Cup record for the three fastest goals set back in 1978.

“We had to get a big save early, that was huge and allowed our momentum to carry forward,” said Spitfires coach Rocky Thompson.

Knott gave Windsor the lead, putting the puck up and over goalie Carl Stankowski from the top of the crease off a feed from Brown at 4:48.

Only 21 second later Ethan Bear turned the puck over behind his net and Julius Nattinen finished the play.

Then Aaron Hyman fumbled the puck in front of his net and Brown slid a backhand between the legs of Stankowski at 5:26, ending the 17-year-old netminder’s night. Rylan Toth entered and made 18 saves in relief.

“Three big breakdowns that kind of left him out to dry,” said Konowalchuk, who wouldn’t unveil his starter for next game.

Keegan Kolesar finally put Seattle on the board with 6:26 remaining in the second, swatting a rebound past DiPietro, who finished with 24 saves.

Toth got caught behind his net on a Windsor power play and for Nattinen’s second with 1:36 to play in the second.

Knott made it 5-1 only 33 seconds into the third while on the power play when a Bracco shot ricocheted off his arm, a Seattle defender, and in.

Jeremiah Addison snapped a high wrister past Toth only three minutes, and Bracco made it a 7-1 game with 6:53 to go.

“I don’t think we ever scored like that, good time to get hot,” said Brown.

“Good team we just beat, think we put ourselves on the map there.”

Notes: Saint John plays Erie on Monday…New Westminster scored three goals in 38 seconds in a 6-3 win over Trois Rivieres.

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