By Devan Mighton
(WALLACEBURG, ON) – With a new season and a new look Sunday evening, the Windsor Clippers opened their 2016 Ontario Junior B lacrosse season with a 14-6 shellacking of their rival the Wallaceburg Red Devils. Veteran Andrew Garant led the way with 9 points in the game, including a hat-trick.
“We just had to go out hard today,” said Garant after the game. “We are going to be a good team this year. We gotta let people know early.”
The Clippers’ assistant captain, who accumulated 90 points last season, stayed humble when asked about his offensive output.
“I was in the right spot at the right time,” he explained. “Our offense is five people, not just one, so I have to give credit to the guys on my offense.”
Garant, a top transitional player for Windsor who, along with teammate James Morgan, stymied multiple, lengthy Wallaceburg power plays.
On his team’s effort, Garant stated, “[My team] connected well today.”
The Clippers had a promising start. Right off the opening face-off, Garant lanced the Red Devils’ net only 9 seconds into play. Then they started to make mental errors in the way of unneeded penalties.
Unforced fouls to Josh Jubenville, Steve Jaworski, and Alex Mayhead led to a 3-1 lead for Wallaceburg before the 4-minute mark had passed in the opening frame. The power play tallies for the Red Devils came from Carter Hastings, Parker Gilhuly, and Corey Lucier.
Windsor turned it around quickly, though, as captain Logan Holmes scored his only goal on the advantage, followed by snipes from Morgan and Patrick Kaschalk, to take a 4-3 lead. The home side tied it up, midway through the stanza, with a goal from Kyle Dawson on a delayed penalty.
Jubenville was ejected, at this point, for an illegal check.
Windsor took control in the middle frame, with two early goals from Chase Kavanaugh and another from Garant. The Red Devils soon found themselves back on the power play and took advantage.
Gilhuly and Evan Mathany both notched extra-man markers to pull the game to within one.
Not to be outdone, the Clippers answered back with quick snipes from Mayhead and Holmes to restore the 3-goal cushion.
The third proved to be all Clippers as the road warriors powered-in five more tallies, while goalkeeper Brayden Bell collected his first shutout period of the season. Holmes, Kavanaugh, and Garant all completed their respective hatters, while Morgan and Kaschalk compiled their second goals of the evening to complete the rout.
Bell, who was beat with 3 quick goals to start the game, redoubled his efforts and frustrated his opponents in the final two and a half periods. Gaining momentum as the game went on, Windsor’s goalie faced many penalty killing scenarios and seemed to gain poise with each one.
Wallaceburg’s veteran tender Eric Shepley was peppered with 55 shots, but made many great saves in the loss.
“First period, I think we were a little bit too jacked up for the season to start,” Coach Jerry Kavanaugh reflected. “[We] took some careless penalties.”
The Clippers were shorthanded 13 times to the Red Devils’ 9.
“We had a conversion between the first and second,” Kavanaugh continued. “Sorta cleaned that up, so the rest of the way I think we were pretty good. We didn’t give up a goal 5-on-5, so that’s encouraging.”
Five of Wallaceburg’s tallies were scored on the power play and one on a delayed whistle.
On nailing down the victory to start the season, Kavanaugh stated, “It’s big. Guys have been chomping at the bit, beating each other up for weeks at practice and camp. It was a big deal to set the tone for the season.”
The Clippers announced their final roster on April 19, which featuring a cast of returnees and long-time veterans of the franchise.
In net, the Clippers have been joined by Sarnia’s Brayden Bell, coming from the Toronto Beaches of the Ontario Junior A League, while Mike Cameron returns as back-up. Jacob Corra, who started most of the games in 2015, is the third goalie on the roster, but did not dress in Wallaceburg.
On defense, newly minted assistant captain Jubenville leads the crew with Phil Ristoski, Darian Delisle, Jaworski, Chad Marentette, Brandon Lalonde, Liam Leclair, and rookie Blain Wallace rounding them out.
Transition will be led by Garant, who is among the league’s best on both sides of the ball. With him will be Mayhead, acquired from Sarnia, Brendan Wallace, Kaschalk, Morgan, and Austin Thompson.
Second-year captain Holmes will head up the offense joined by Dylan Riley, Craig Marentette, Kavanaugh, rookie Nathan Salaris, Ryan Marchand, Noah Bushnell, Evan Mihalic, and Jake Rosa.
Sporting a new jersey design for this season, Windsor unveiled their road sweaters Sunday, much in the fashion of the original AKO Fratmen design. Their home jerseys, to be unveiled at their home opener May 7 against the Welland Generals, will feature an all-gold design with black trim and a new anchor-clad logo.