The Windsor Spitfires got everything the club could hope for in Wednesday’s game.
Captain Matthew Maggio hit another milestone, centre Jacob Maillet provided the overtime heroics and a old rival’s loss on the road left the Spitfires once again sitting alone atop the Western Conference standings.
“We had to go to overtime to get two points, but that’s all right,” Maillet said.
Sent in on a two-on-one with Alex Christopoulos on a feed from defenceman Nicholas De Angelis, Maillet scored the winner just 52 seconds into overtime to give the Spitfires a 6-5 win over the Saginaw Spirt before a crowd of 6,251 at the WFCU centre.
“As soon as I got it, I knew it was Christiopoulos (was on the other side) and, if I get him the puck, he scores every time,” said Maillet, who finished the game with three points. “Tried to dish it over, it came right back to me and I was able to backhand it in. I’ll take it and happy about it, too.”
The win extended Windsor’s winning streak to three games and, coupled with London’s 7-4 loss to Guelph, put the Spitfires two-points up for top spot in the Western Conference with five games left in the regular season.
“We’re in first in the west and we don’t want to look back,” Spitfires’ head coach Marc Savard said. “Top of the west feels good and we have to keep pushing ahead.”
But while the Spitfires were thrilled with the win, many in the stands came to see if Maggio ] became the first Windsor player to hit the 50-goal mark since Steve Ott did it 22 years ago in the final game of the 2000-01 season.
Saginaw kept the Tecumseh native bottled up in an opening period that finished 1-1 with Oliver Peer putting Windsor up early only to see Mitchell Smith counter for the Spirit.
“I felt like I had a guy on me at all times in the first period and I was getting a little frustrated,” said Maggio, who leads the OHL in goals and scoring with 104 points. “Coming into the second (period, Savard) gave me a quick pep talk and said, ’Stay calm, stick with it, it’s going to come’ and that gave me a bit of relief.”
Smith scored his second goal of the game to give Saginaw its only lead of the game, but Peer’s second goal of the game tied it again.
Aidan Castle put Windsor up 3-2, but Smith completed his hat-trick to tie it before Maillet set Maggio in on a breakaway in the final minute of the period.
“He was getting frustrated early, I had a good chat, told him to settle down, it’s going to come,” Savard said. “It was a great way to get it.”
A right-hand shot, Maggio faked to his forehand before shifting to his backhand and putting the puck over Spirit goalie Tristan Lennox and just under the crossbar.
“The last guy to do it was Steve Ott, which was pretty cool because my dad (Rob Maggio, who is a former Spitfire trainer) trained him growing up,” Maggio said. “Kind of full circle there and to be in the same category as him is a huge honour.”
Going into Wednesday’s game, the Spitfires had taken 69-of-70 possible points in 35 games when leading after two periods, but the Spirit would rally twice to force overtime.
Windsor native Sebastien Gervais tied it at 4-4, but Christopoulos came back with his 45th goal of the season to put the Spitfires up again only to see the Spirit force overtime when Joey Willis scored on a Saginaw power play with just under three minutes left in regulation to set the stage for Maillet’s heroics.
The Spitfires now hit the road for back-to-back games in Sault Ste. Marie against the Greyhounds starting on Friday. Game time is 7:07 p.m.
Spitfires 6 Spirit 5 (OT)
Saginaw 1 2 2 0 – 5
Windsor 1 3 1 1 – 0
First period: 1. Windsor, Peer 21 (Christopoulos, Wright) 10:40, 2. Saginaw, Smith 11 (Parekh, Willis) 14:11. Penalties: Sima S (too many men) :50, Jodoin W (tripping) 17:28, Mangone S (tripping) 10:52.
Second period: 3. Saginaw, Smith 12 (Sapovaliv, Loukus) :49 (sh), 4. Windsor, Peer 22 (Maillet, Renwick) 1:49 (pp), 5. Windsor, Castle 18 (Cristoforo) 4:07, 6. Saginaw, Smith 13 (Loukus, Sapovaliv) 16:58 (pp), 7. Windsor, Maggio 50 (Maillet, Harrison) 19:13. Penalties: Wright W (delay of game) 6:04, Morneau W (holding) 16:49.
Third period: 8. Saginaw, Gervais 9 (Moore, Misa) 2:14, 9. Windsor, Christiopoulos 45 (Castle, Wright) 3:03, 10. Saginaw, Willis 14 (Haight, Loukus) 17:03 (pp). Penalties: Gervais S (roughing), Smith W (double minor roughing) 10:59, Cristoforo W (cross checking) 16:12.
Overtime: 11. Windsor, Maillet 23 (De Angelis) :52. Penalties: None.
Game stats – SOG – Saginaw 8 12 6 0 – 26 Windsor 6 9 7 1 – 23 Goal (shots-saves) – Saginaw: Lennox (L,25-14-2-2) (23-17). Windsor: Onuska (W,17-9-4-0) (26-21). Power play (goals-chances) – Saginaw 2-5. Windsor 1-2. Referees: Chad Ingalls (12) and Drew Jackson (21). Linesmen: Scott Lawson (98) and Kurtis Pare (70). Att.: 6,251 at the WFCU Centre.
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