(WINDSOR, ON) – On a warm and sunny evening just over a week ago, the Windsor Clippers junior lacrosse club, friends, and family gathered at Windsor’s Caboto Club to reminisce and celebrate the season that was.
Chase Kavanaugh had a big night for awards, outright winning the team’s Leading Scorer Award, Best Offensive Player, co-winning Most Valuable Player with goalie Carson Hebner, and Most Sportsmanlike Player with captain James Morgan. Kavanaugh finished off his season by winning the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League scoring title (122 points in 20 games) and the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
Hebner, who was also named Most Improved Player, was stellar in net for the Clippers this season, finishing sixth in league-wide minutes played (873), second in wins (12), sixth in goals against average (6.67), and ninth in save percentage (.826). In one season Hebner improved from part-time backup goalie to the star-starter and was instrumental in the Clippers’ dominant 2018 regular season.
Morgan, also named the Lori Cox Memorial Most Dedicated Player, was an impact player his entire career but, as a captain, he showcased his skill set in a dominant fashion. A transition player, he was able to set career highs in 2018 in goals (13), assists (25), and points (38), all while leading by example both in the dressing room and on the floor.
With an emotional speech, head coach Jerry Kavanaugh named Noah Bushnell the Clippers’ Playoff Most Valuable Player. In a turnaround that could only be described as unprecedented, the Clippers’ tough guy put together his lowest penalty minute totals this season, while putting up more points this year than his previous two combined.
After leading the OJBLL in assists during the regular season, he carried his team in the playoffs, leading Windsor in playoff scoring with 21 points in five games. If sheer will could win a series, Bushnell’s leadership was inspiring.
Brigden product Alex Mayhead was named the team’s Best Defensive Player after finishing his third season with the club since moving over from the Point Edward Pacers in 2016. Mayhead’s physicality was impressive as he forced opponents to know when he was occupying the house this season in front of Hebner.
Aaron Dugan was named the Clippers’ Don Ducharme Memorial Unsung Hero and showed great composure and face-off ability down the stretch.
After being named the OJBLL’s Rookie of the Year, it was no shock that Six Nations Arrows prospect Brayden Mayea was first in line for the team award as well. Mayea’s play was immense, leading the OJBLL with 60 goals as a rookie.
Coach Kavanaugh finished the evening by introducing this year’s graduates. Morgan, Kavanaugh, Mayhead, and Bushnell along with Brendan Wallace, Craig Marentette, and Evan Mihalic are a group of young men that the coach, for the most part, helped coach from tyke on up.
On Twitter, the Clippers remembered Bushnell with, “everyone felt two inches taller with you on the floor and your ability to pick up the offence when needed.”
About Wallace, “thank you … for your ability to be in the right place at the right time and reading the offensive players mind before they move. Your ability to create opportunities in transition has been amazing.”
On “Captain Morgan”, “thank you … for your never quit attitude and providing all of us with your amazing, stop on a dime, making people miss you plays for the past five years.”
The Clippers thanked Mayhead for his “years of service and playing a huge roll out of the back door for us for many years.”
“I was proud to represent the Clippers as a leader because of how successful the city is in lacrosse, especially with all the great players who have come out of Windsor,” said Mayhead.
The Clippers thanked NAIA All-American Craig Marentette for his dedication.
“Playing 12 months a year is a tough thing to do, but you are always willing to do anything asked of you for the team.”
To Mihalic: “Thank you for always putting the team first and doing whatever job we needed you to do!”
“To me, being a Clipper was more than being part of a lacrosse team. It was an opportunity to go out and leave everything I had on the floor with a group of guys that I can call my brothers,” said Mihalic. “On and off the floor we had each other’s backs no matter what. It allowed me the opportunity to create everlasting friendships with a great group of players and coaches. I will never be able to thank them for welcoming me back to the team with open arms this year. It meant the world to me to be able to go to war one last time with the 97’s that I’ve played with for the last 16 years. The Clippers organization is and always will be a second family.”
And finally, the organization said, “thank you, Chase Kavanaugh, for providing unbelievable arcade-like highlight goals for the past five years. No one sees the floor like you. Good luck in the future.”
“Playing for the Clippers was no doubt one of the best experiences of my life,” said Chase. “I can remember wanting to play for this organization ever since I was younger and watching the AKO Fratmen games. It was really something special to be able to compete with teammates who I consider to be some of my best friends and something I’ll always appreciate. Looking back it’s not just the games that I think of, but all the practices, hotel trips, bus rides, and just being in the dressing room with all the guys. To Mike [Soulliere] and the rest of the board, to all the coaches, the players, the fans, I really have nothing but good things to say and they all made every year so enjoyable. The only downside is it only lasted five years.”