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Great winger Kyle McDonald is finally hoping to have the chance to make a difference for the Windsor Spitfires.

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The Spitfires’ second-round pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, McDonald’s saw his rookie season cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery. He showed flashes in his second season, but the COVID-19 pandemic again cut his season short before erasing all of last season.

“Especially losing a year, that was the year I was looking forward to playing a big role,” said McDonald, 19. “Now I’m short of years.”

But the 6-foot-5, 216-pound McDonald’s still has time to make an impact and he showed that potential again on Sunday with one goal and two assists in Windsor’s 5-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Center. WFCU.

“He’s got everything a hockey player should have,” said Spitfires head coach Marc Savard. “He’s talented, he’s a big guy and he’ll play a big role if he can do the little things.”

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Savard knocked out McDonald on the power play on Sunday, carried a few disadvantages and was out again with Hamilton’s net empty and the Bulldogs pressing to try to get back into the game.

“We had a great conversation,” Savard said of McDonald’s. “We’re both from Ottawa and I hired him and he was given great opportunities. I know in recent years he hasn’t had such a great opportunity. I love what he does and there are still things we are working on, but he has scored three goals in four games.

Trailing 1-0 after the first period, McDonald took a pass from Daniel D’Amico and fired a shot from the post at Hamilton blocker Tristan Malboeuf to tie the game at 1-1.

“I just think I’m more confident,” said McDonald, who has five points in four exhibition games this year. “My first two years, I was trying to build and I had so much free time (last year) to work on things to be that impact player.”

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Rookie Chris O’Flaherty gave Windsor a 2-1 lead, but Hamilton responded with a late goal to tie the score at 2-2 after 40 minutes.

McDonald assisted on Matthew Maggio’s goal in a two-man power play in Windsor for the eventual winner of the game. After rookie Ethan Miedema extended that lead to two goals, McDonald got another assist on goal into an empty net from rookie Ryan Abraham to seal the victory as the Spitfires rebounded from an 8-1 loss. against the Bulldogs in Hamilton on Friday.

“I think we needed it,” McDonald said. “It shows that our guys already care about us. You have to have character to come back and losing 8-1 is embarrassing. “

But even if the victory was fine, Savard is still not lost in the fact that the exhibition season aims to give more experience to young players.

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After Maggio got the Spitfires in place, Savard looked to his rookies for some power-play time while maintaining a one-goal lead.

“We know this week that everyone is coming back (from the NHL camps),” said Savard. “They (young players) have to have an opportunity and there’s no better time than now to see what they can do.”

That includes rookie goalie Kyle Downey, who had a solid game with 27 saves including 11 in the opening period when Windsor was outscored 12-8.

“Downey played really well,” said McDonald. “He had a very good game.

With a home and away game with the Oshawa generals on Friday and Sunday to wrap up the exhibition game, McDonald’s just wants to keep pushing to show he’s ready to play a bigger role with the team this season.

“It’s nice to be in these roles again,” said McDonald. “You come back to minor minor and I’ve had these bigger roles, but when you come into the league you’re not that guy.

“That’s one of the reasons you have a preseason so you can work and shine and show you deserve whatever you want. You just want to keep building.

jpparker@postmedia.com

twitter.com/winstarparker

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