Zito’s return along with reorganized special teams sparks Spitfires to a 7-3 win over Sting

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Zito, who was injured on Nov. 3 against Flint, came back with a goal and two assists while the Spitfires scored three goals in the power play and killed all four shortstop situations in a 7-3 win over the Sarnia Sting on Friday before. 2,897 at Progressive Auto Sales Arena.

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“It’s nice when you get on board and you want more games,” said Spitfires head coach Marc Savard, whose team has now won three in a row for the first time this season.

Zito played a big role early in the game after the Firecrackers went down 1-0 on a Nolan Damm goal. Zito got help when Daniel D’Amico knocked home a Grayson Ladd shot to tie the game and then scored on a nice individual effort going to the net to put Windsor up 2-1. Ashton Reesor got the Sting even before the end of the initial 20 minutes.

“It’s good to have him back,” Savard said of Zito, who is the prospect of Detroit Red Wings. “He’s one of our main guys.”

In perhaps the team’s best period of the season, the Firecrackers dominated the second period with a 17-4 edge in shots and scored the only two goals of the period for a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.

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Rookie Ethan Miedema countered his check at the edge of the crease to put Windsor up 3-2 and Kyle McDonald extended the lead to two with a power play goal.

Cuylle would extend the lead to three goals with a power play goal early in the third period and then added his second later in the period as Windsor produced three goals with the men’s advantage for the first time that season.

“We demolished it,” Savard said of the power. “We are second in the league in shots on the power play.

“We moved guys around. Cuylle (who was at the point) in front of the net. He’s a good choice. “

Windsor came into the game 17th in the league with the men’s advantage at just 14.9 percent, but clicked at 50 percent on Friday.

“I think when you struggle a little bit, you tend to rush shots and games,” Savard said. “Earlier in the year, we moved hockey puck and looked for different looks.”

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The Firecrackers also received a boost from its penalty shootout against the league’s worst power play with Sarnia unable to convert on any of its four chances.

“We changed our structure on the fly,” said Savard, whose team came into the game with the league’s worst penalty shootout at 69.4 percent. “I think guys might have been a little in between. (Associate coach Jerrod Smith) worked hard to get guys back to work hard, stops and starts and presses up the ice. We need to get more savings on penalty kills and goalkeepers know that too. “

Windsor goalkeeper Xavier Medina was not too busy with 19 saves, but he was in the net for all three wins for the club in its current streak.

After Cuylle’s first strong goal, D’Amico added his second goal for the Firecrackers, who held a 42-22 edge in shots. Dann got his second before Cuylle closed out the scoring in a late Windsor power play.

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Spit chips

One-year-old Oliver Peer is still approaching a return to play after missing his fifth game in a row on Friday. Rookie forward Wylie Birkett was a healthy scratch on Friday.

Peer has not played since Oct. 23 due to an ankle injury, but Savard said he is close to returning to play.

“He’s slipping,” Savard said. “He won’t play this weekend, but maybe Thursday.”

Meanwhile, there will be no reunion for Savard on Saturday when the Spitfires face the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at the WFCU Center.

Savard Tyler’s 18-year-old son is in his first season with the Hounds, but will miss the game due to an ankle injury.

“He didn’t even make the trip,” Savard said.

The young forward has nine points in 14 games for the Greyhounds, which took him in the 11th round of the OHL Draft 2020.

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jpparker@postmedia.com

twitter.com/winstarparker

Game Summary

Friday Result

Firecrackers 7 Sting 3

Windsor 2 2 3 – 7

Sarnia 2 0 1 – 3

First period: 1. Sarnia, Dann 5 (Burke, Supryka) 7:24, 2. Windsor, D’Amico 2 (Ladd, Zito), 11:10, 3. Windsor, Zito 5 (D’Amico, Ladd) 14:11. Penalties: Sobolev W (blinding) 14:44.

Second period: 5. Windsor, Miedema 4 (Johnston) 7:51, 6. Windsor, McDonald 5 (Cuylle, Henault) 10:24 (pp). Penalties: Vogelsberg S (jump) 2:29, Renwick W (cut) 14:33.

Third period: 7. Windsor, Cuylle 8 (Johnston, Zito) 6:20 (pp), 8. Windsor, D’Amico 3 (McDonald, Sobolev) 7:34, 9. Sarnia, Dann 6 (Dillingham, Namestnikov) 8:18, 10. Windsor, Cuylle 9 (Henault, Zito) 17:54 (pp).

Penalties: Henault W (roughing) 2:54, Mast S (double minor high sticking) 5:22, Ribau W (breaking) 6:42, Reesor S (high sticking) 9:34, O’Flaherty W (roughing), Dillingham S (rough), Pryce S (rough) 16:12, Ride W (unsportsmanlike conduct), Filak S (unsportsmanlike conduct) 18:58.

Game Statistics – SOG – Windsor 12 17 13 – 42 Sarnia 9 4 9 – 22 Target (shooting savings) – Windsor: Medina (W, 4-3-0-2) (22-19). Sarnia: Thornton (L, 1–40-0) (42-35). Powerful game (goal opportunities) – Windsor 3-6. Sarnia 0-4. Referees: Craig Dease (39) and Ryan Elbers (9). Line players: Ryan Cadwell (82) and Adam Harris (49). Al: 2,897 at Progressive Auto Sales Arena.

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