SPIRIT THIS WEEK: DOWNEY WINS OJHL DEBUT THEN RETURNS TO THE OHL FOR TWO GAMES

The newest member of the Stouffville Spirit is getting his kilometres in.

Goaltender Kyle Downey joined the Ontario Junior Hockey League team from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League Wednesday.

He won his OJHL debut – and first game of the season anywhere – Friday night in Pickering, helping the Spirit to a 7-3 win over the hometown Panthers.

“I could have played better but it was a good game and we won,” he said Saturday morning, “and that’s all that matters.”

Downey, 19, then joined Kingston for games tonight in Guelph and Sunday afternoon in Owen Sound as an affilate player. He’s expected back in Stouffville next week.

Kingston acquired Downey in a trade with the Erie Otters for a ninth-round 2024 draft pick Tuesday.

Downey was drafted by the Windsor Spitfires during the second round of the 2020 OHL U16 draft. On Oct. 18, 2022, he was acquired by the Erie Otters.

During his OHL career, Downey has played in 37 games, amassing a record of 12 wins and 17 losses. During the 2022-23 season, he played in 26 games for the Otters, finishing with eight victories, a 3.79 goals-against average, and a save percentage of 0.872.

He calls his junior hockey career to date, “interesting.”

“I’ve been in a lot of different spots, traded many times,” he said. “So not quite what I would have expected when I started, but no complaints with the people that I’ve met.”

Downey and second-year Spirit forward were teammates “a long time ago” for the Caledon Hawks minor hockey team. In Erie, Downey played with Pano Fimis, the older brother of Spirit rookie Andoni Fimis.

He’s been welcomed with open arms in Stouffville.

“It’s been awesome. The guys have been nothing but great.”

When he’s not on the ice or working out, Downey works on his family’s pick-your-own farm in Caledon.

The 7-3-0-3 Spirit is tied for sixth place in the OJHL’s East Division. They have games in hand on all 11 other teams in the grouping.

Their .654 winning percentage is tied for sixth best in the 24-team league.

THE SCORES

Spirit 7, Pickering 3, Oct. 20

Captain Odaro Ewere had two goals and an assist for the Spirit who held period leads of 4-0 and 6-2. Rookie defenceman Alex Pasternak scored his first OJHL goal, assisted on another and was named player of the game. Other scorers were Pope, Peter Kioussis, Alex Whitney and Lachlan Wells. 

The Spirit outshot the Panthers 48-32.

Markham 4, Spirit 3, 2OT, Oct 19

Wells, David Paglia and Duncan Grube gave the Spirit a 3-1 lead before Markham fired back to force overtime. The Spirit were outshot 30-29.

Attendance was 299.

THE SKED

Spirit at Wellington, Oct. 22, 2:30 p.m.

Pickering at Stouffville, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.

Lindsay at Stouffville, Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m.

All Spirit games are broadcast on FloHockey. Go to:  https://www.flohockey.tv/

NOTEBOOK

Congratulations to rookie defenceman Nolan Jackson who made his OHL regular season debut with our affiliate, the Sudbury Wolves, Friday. The 16-year-old from Barrie was a second-round pick of the Wolves in the 2023 Ontario Hockey League U16 draft.

Spirit This Week is sponsored by Farmer Jack’s in Stouffville and Sharon