Less than a week after being eliminated from the 2022-23 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoffs, the Windsor Spitfires are getting some recognition from their peers. The annual OHL Coaches Poll was released on Monday and several players were in the spotlight.
When the Western Conference’s top-seeded Spitfires were eliminated from the playoffs following a first-round sweep to the eighth-seeded Kitchener Rangers, it was hard to look at the bright side of the season. However, being recognized in the poll, along with their first-place finish in the conference, will be key to seeing the positives. In total, seven players found a spot in the poll, showing the depth and the talent the club really had.
Maggio and Maillet Leads Spitfires in Poll
Leading the Spitfires are captain Matthew Maggio and veteran Jacob Maillet with two categories each. Both had remarkable seasons in their own right.
Maillet, 20, is a forward that flew under the radar for much of the season. Acquired from the Guelph Storm in December 2021, he was given a chance to show his game and took full advantage. He had 31 points in 69 games last season between the clubs, but broke out with 24 goals and 76 points in 67 games this season. That’s led to this:
- Most Underrated Player – Western Conference – Jacob Maillet
- Best Defensive Forward – Western Conference – Jacob Maillet
From being drafted by the New York Islanders last summer to being named captain of the Spitfires in November, the Tecumseh-native Maggio already had a stellar resume. This season, he talked about being a great teammate, playing the right way, and giving it his all on and off the ice. That led to his 111-point campaign and two more pieces to add to his resume:
- Hardest Worker – Western Conference – Matthew Maggio
- Most Dangerous in Goal Area – Second Place – Western Conference – Matthew Maggio
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While Maillet is eligible to return next season, Maggio will be headed to the Islanders’ system. Their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Bridgeport Islanders, signed him to an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) on Monday as he begins the next chapter in his hockey career.
Five More Spitfires Get Recognition
While Maggio and Maillet led the way with two categories each, five other Spitfires were named in the poll. These include:
- Forward Alex Christopoulos – Most Improved Player – Western Conference
- Forward Shane Wright – Smartest Player – Tied for Second Place – Western Conference
- Defenceman Michael Renwick – Hardest Shot – Second Place – Western Conference
- Defenceman Daniil Sobolev – Best Body Checker – Tied for Third Place – Western Conference
- Defenceman Nicholas DeAngelis – Best Defensive Defenceman – Third Place – Western Conference
Christopoulos came to the Spitfires in Nov. 2021 in a trade with the North Bay Battalion. After 14 goals and 24 points in 68 games last season, he exploded for 49 goals and 74 points in 68 games this season. Wright (Seattle Kraken) joined at the January trade deadline, put up 37 points in 20 games, and is either NHL- or AHL-bound for 2023-24. Renwick, 20, is the grandson of former Spitfires’ coach Dave Prpich and a leader on and off the ice. He added 13 goals and 35 points in 65 games this season and was known for his big point shot. He also signed a contract on Monday, joining the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL).
Sobolev, 20, was the Spitfires’ first-round Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import pick in 2020. He’s known for his physical play and could return to the club next season as one of three over-agers (20-year-olds). DeAngelis, 18, was the club’s second-round pick in 2020. He had 26 points in 67 games along with a plus-16 rating.
While being eliminated this early was tough, the coaches’ poll gives the Spitfires something to enjoy as the season comes to an end. These seven players deserved the recognition and it’s a testament to the work put in by everyone.