At long last, the OHL playoffs are back.
Sarnia Sting and Windsor Spitfires will face off in the first round, starting tonight at the WFCU Centre, in the league's first playoff action since 2019.
Among those looking forward to the playoffs are two super fans who spoke with CBC Windsor: Dick Tracey and Laura Domingos.
They're both diehards, but their allegiances lie on different sides of the centre line.
"I think it's going to be very interesting," said Domingos, a Sting season-ticket holder who attends games with her son and daughter.
"You know, we keep hearing, we've got such a young team, but it seems to be that when they come under pressure, they really kind of step 'er up."
Domingos — who even has a room in her house dedicated to the Sting — says the family goes on road trips to see them play. They sit behind the team's bench when they're in Windsor, and behind the penalty box in Sarnia.
"We love being right in the action," she said.
Spitfires devotee Tracey calls himself "the ultimate fan," a title his father once held as well.
He's been coming to see the Spits since 1975. He paints his face and waves the flag at home games, though his grandson has been carrying on the tradition following a motorcycle accident Tracey had.
"I would love to see them go all the way," Tracey said. "And, I mean, they have the capability of going all the way to the Memorial [Cup] But so, yeah, that's that's our biggest hope."
He said the current roster is matched with the 2017 team, which won the national championship of the Canadian Hockey League.
"They have got the ability, they've got the stamina. It's the matter of getting out and playing 60 minutes of hockey, which these guys are more than capable of doing," he said.
Spits had 'phenomenal' season
The Spitfires are going into the best-of-seven series as West Division champions.
They ended the regular season with 34 wins and 20 losses.
Among those wins was a 13-game streak extinguished by Erie Otters during the second last game of the regular season.
The Sting, however, are the series underdogs, with 22 wins and 34 losses. But even Tracey isn't counting out the Sting, saying he believes the series will go to five games.
LISTEN | Hockey analyst Paige Martin joins Afternoon Drive
Paige Martin, a hockey analyst based in London, Ont., described the Spitfires' season as "phenomenal."
"They were led all season by Wyatt Johnston, he was just awarded the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy because he finished the season with the most points in the OHL," she said on CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive.
Johnston earned 124 points in total, with 46 goals and 78 assists in 68 games.