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WIndsor Spitfires: A First Half Review

Special Thanks to Matt Dumouchelle

With the Windsor Spitfires just past the halfway point in their schedule and with Christmas break just wrapping up, it gives us some time to see what has happened in the first 37 games.

MVP: Alexander Khokhlachev. The steadiest offensive player on the team, Khoklachev has produced 17 goals and 47 points in 35 games this season. His -6 rating is concerning, but this team has given up the fifth most goals of any team in the OHL.

Most Underrated Player: It has been a fairly quiet December for Brady Vail, but there’s no question his contributions this year have been impressive. Vail has put up 27 points in 37 games this year, having totaled 10 in 61 games last year. He’s also being used in a much more defensive-minded role – against team’s top lines and on the PK – and he has adjusted well.

Biggest Disappointment: Ben Johnson. He has heated up as of late, but did not score his first OHL goal until November 13th. The Spitfires were very high on Johnson, who scored 77 points in 30 games with Calumet High School in Michigan and was just the second Junior to ever be picked as Mr. Hockey (the top Michigan High School hockey player), but has had a hard time adjusting to the OHL game. If you remove a flashy 6 game spread in November, Johnson has just 2 goals and 5 assists in 31 games.

Biggest Surprise: Coming into this season, Kerby Rychel had scored 7 OHL goals in 62 regular season games, this year he’s got 21 markers after only 37 contests. Rychel, who is on pace for a 75 point season, has been the most reliable offensive weapon Windsor has had outside of Khoklachev.

Players on the Block: I can’t say everyone, but close to it. Players like Chris Marchese, Brandon Devlin and Jaroslav Pavelka were acquired by GM Warren Rychel to be pieces for the future so they can be expected to stay put. If someone came calling for a veteran goaltender, John Cullen is available (but has not helped his own cause this year). Adrian Robertson would make a very interesting trade piece before the January 10th trade deadline.

Key Game Coming Up: January 22 vs Jack Campbell and the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Campbell did not play in the November 13th meeting, an 8-0 Windsor win.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: It has only been a quick glimpse, but Chris Marchese seems to be adjusting to his new surroundings quite well, with 5 points in his first two games as a Spitfire. Rookie Michael Clarke has only scored 3 goals since October 16th, after scoring 8 in his first 11 OHL games.

2nd Half Outlook: It’s the worst kept secret in the league that Windsor is looking forward to 2014, when the Memorial Cup returns to the OHL and the Spitfires will place their bid to host the tournament at the WFCU Centre. This team is rebuilding and it would be hard to see them get into the top 4 in the Western Conference this year. They will make the postseason, but more eyes are watching the calendar flip than eyeing a playoff run in 2012.

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