(WINDSOR, ON) – Another lacrosse season is on the horizon at Forest Glade Arena. Children stream in and out of the rink, parents in tow, with sticks in their hand and bags slung from their shoulders. Spring is upon us, and that means one thing, tryout season. Windsor’s Junior B indoor lacrosse team, the Windsor Clippers, prepare for war once again.
There is a ripple of excitement coursing through their players, who never seem to leave the arena, as their season opener against the Wallaceburg Red Devils looms in the distance.
Windsor’s answer to junior level boxla are the 3-time defending Far-West Division champions. Although, success is not that simple. They are trapped in a conference with traditional powerhouses like the Six Nations Rebels, Orangeville Northmen, and Elora Mohawks. The franchise has not competed in the Conference Final since the days they were known as the Fratmen.
When pressed on whether his brood has unfinished business to attend to this season, Head Coach Jerry Kavanaugh stated, “If we are going to make a run, it’s gotta be now.” On his boys, “We’ve got a lot of veteran guys here; the way we lost the last two years is not sitting well with a few of them, so I think they absolutely do have something to prove.”
The Clippers have wrapped up their preseason, which just concluded with a prospects tournament in Elora last weekend. Finishing with a 2-1 record, Windsor’s Patrick Kaschalk led the team to a 7-6 win over the Owen Sound North Stars to begin the event, scoring 4 goals.
Chase Kavanaugh added a pair, while Josh Jubenville contributed a single marker. Captain Logan Holmes notched five assists, while newly acquired Brayden Bell picked up the win in net.
Bell, whose rights were dealt from the Point Edward Pacers, seems content with his new club. The veteran of the Toronto Beaches Junior As, pulled no punches when asked about the transaction.
“I feel good, it’s better than playing for Point Edward obviously.” He explained, “It’s nice to go to a team with a winning culture. All the guys care about winning and [give it their all] out there.”
A lot of emphasis has been placed on Bell’s reputed ball-stopping ability and his contribution to the fast break.
“I think that’s huge for us,” Coach Kavanaugh added on the acquisition of Bell.
Injury troubles and and inexperience hindered goalies Mike Cameron, Jacob Cora, and Colin Reaburn last season, which left the lot of them fighting for the back-up spot this year.
“He’s a solid guy,” Kavanaugh said. “He’s always been a real good goalie and getting that full year of Junior A experience last year, was obviously good for him.”
“He throws the ball as good, if not better, than any goalie that’s ever been here,” Kavanaugh continued regarding Bell’s transitional play.
The second game in Elora was a rematch against the Halton Hills Bulldogs, who they met in Hagersville the weekend before. Holmes and Andrew Garant each found twine twice, while Noah Bushnell, Ryan Marchand, and Alex Mayhead added singles in a 7-4 win.
Veteran goalie, Mike Cameron, took the W between the pipes.
Holmes, entering his second season as team captain, is the defending Western Conference scoring champion.
“It would be nice to get up there in points again,” then Holmes digressed, “The main goal is the team record, not individual stats. The biggest thing for me is just focusing on the team as a whole. Last year we ran into a big house like Six Nations, obviously they swept us, but I don’t think that will happen again this year.”
The Clippers made the conference semi-finals in 2015, but were thwarted by a juggernaut Rebels club.
“It’s nice to have 19 guys coming back and to pick up a good goalie who wants to win too and drives down everyday from Sarnia just to practice with the team,” he quipped. “As a 21-year-old, in his fifth year, my final year; it would be nice to win.”
At the conclusion of the tournament, the Clippers scaled back their roster to let younger guys to get more playing time. Playing the Oakville Buzz, the Clippers lost 10-4, with two from Garant, and singles from Chase Kavanaugh and Holmes. The two goalies split the loss.
“There’s probably four, five, maybe six guys on the offensive end that can really put up a lot of points,” stated Coach Kavanaugh, “I expect Logan to have another huge year, Andrew Garant, Chase Kavanaugh, Patrick Kaschalk, that left side is going to be lethal for us. The right side with Bushnell, [Blain] Wallace, and even Alex Mayhead, who we also picked up from Sarnia, is there too, so I expect our offence to do some good things.”
Windsor will announce their final roster in the coming days as they prepare for their season opener, in Wallaceburg, on April 24. The opener will be the first of three road battles, before they return to Forest Glade for their season opener on May 7 against the Welland Warlords.