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Stanley’s return transformed Spits blue line

 

He’s 6-foot-7, 231Ibs., one of the OHL’s best shot blockers and his return has rejuvenated a Windsor Spitfires blue line at just the right time.

Winnipeg Jets first round pick Logan Stanley’s return has helped the Windsor Spitfires play to a perfect 3-0 record and bring themselves to within a win of Mastercard Memorial Cup glory.

The Waterloo native missed most of the second half of the season with a knee injury and wasn’t available to the Spitfires in their seven game first round demise at the hands of the defending Mastercard Memorial Cup champion London Knights.

The lingering question remains – had Stanley been good to go, could the Spits have pushed past the Knights in their first round series? We’ll never know.

Regardless, the big man’s return gives Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson and defensive-minded associate Trevor Letowski a top-four consisting of Mikhail Sergachev and captain Jalen Chatfield while Stanley pairs up with smooth-skating New York Rangers prospect Sean Day.

“It’s a pretty solid top four,” said Stanley who recorded 17 points (4-13–17) in 35 games this past season. “Those guys can really skate and I think we’ve come into our own here. We put in a lot of hard work during the 44 day layoff and its nice to see it pay off.”

Stanley, who suffered a knee injury that required surgery on January 17th against Kitchener, was quick to credit other blueliners Austin McEneny and Tyler Nother for their part in Windsor’s success.

“They’ve been important too. They give us a rest when we need it and when they’re called they get the job done.”

The Spits have viewed their blue line as a strength from the outset. Paired with the fine goaltending of 2017 NHL Draft prospect Michael DiPietro who tied a franchise record with a 2.35 goals-against average, Windsor surrendered just 185 goals, the OHL’s third-lowest total.

As far as NHL comparisons go, head coach Rocky Thompson draws an interesting parallel to a club enjoying a great deal of success.

“I think we’re structured in a similar way as the Nashville Predators,” he said. “We have good forwards, a very strong top four on the blue line with a capable five and six. Our goaltending has been consistent all year.

“Like Nashville, we play a high energy game and we try and keep things simple, but we bring it and we defend very well without the puck.”

The Spitfires battled health issues throughout the season, with big 6-foot-6 centreman Logan Brown joining Stanley in the stands for 33 games due to wrist and shoulder injuries.

With both Logans good to go, no suspensions being served and DiPietro providing his usual brand of high quality goaltending, the Spitfires have fought their way to within one win of their third Memorial Cup in franchise history.

“We’re healthy right now,” said Thompson. “That’s probably the biggest thing going for us. We have a full 20-man roster that we have access to and that makes a world of difference.”

The Spitfires prepare for the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup Final that gets underway against the winner of a Semi-Final match between the Erie Otters and Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday.

Sunday’s 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT game will be aired across the country on Sportsnet, TVA Sports, in the United States on NHL Network and streaming online at CHLLIVE.com.

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