(NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ON) – Overtime can be a bitter thing when you are on the losing end, especially in lacrosse. Unlike hockey, where overtime is sudden death and you are still credited with a point for a tie, indoor lacrosse affords you an entire extra frame that can only end with a buzzer. There is one catch, if you lose, you are left with nothing but the thoughts of what could have been.
The Windsor Clippers Junior B lacrosse team felt the pang of defeat Saturday night when the buzzer went for the fourth time at the Meridian Credit Union Arena in Niagara-On-The-Lake. Edged 8-7 by the Niagara Thunderhawks, Windsor was left with a long bus ride home to think on a failed comeback.
“Niagara [is a] big, strong, talented team at both ends of the floor,” wrote Head Coach Jerry Kavanaugh the morning after the game. “[They] did a good job of taking away some of the things we want to do offensively.”
The Clippers, playing their second game in as many nights, were fresh off a 21-6 thrashing of the London Blue Devils – but sometimes winning big can be a bad thing.
“[It] took us about 10 minutes to get up to speed,” he stated, “[it’s] tough to go from London to that in one day. London [was] very young, very over-matched physically and skill-wise. [It’s] hard to keep [the] intensity level where we want it and avoid creating bad habits.”
At the earlier tilt in London, the Clippers scored early and often during this glaring mismatch. Team captain Logan Holmes led the offence with 12 points, including a 5-goal outburst from the 2015 Western Conference scoring champion. Along with a 9-point night for Andrew Garant and 8 points for Ryan Marchand, a total of thirteen different players registered on the game sheet for Windsor.
The Clippers started the massacre with a 6-goal run, with snipes coming from Holmes, Marchand, Chase Kavanaugh, Brendan Wallace, and a pair from Patrick Kaschalk.
The Blue Devils answered back with a blast from Ben Brown on the power play, but Windsor replied late in the first frame with markers from Alex Mayhead and Garant.
London shortened the lead at the start of the second with a goal from Ryan Carruthers. Darian Delisle picked up another snipe for the Clips minutes later, followed by a Blue Devil tally from Kingsley Doxtator to make the score 9-3.
The floor caved in for London late in the middle frame, as Windsor hammered another 5 goals into the Blue Devils’ net, four of them shorthanded. Scoring for the Clips was Austin Thompson, Holmes twice, Kaschalk, and Josh Jubenville. The final two of these markers were scored on the empty net, as London attempted an unsuccessful gamble late in the stanza.
Leading 14-3, the Clippers did not let up in the third. With two more goals from Holmes, a pair from Garant, and singles from Kaschalk, James Morgan, and Mayhead, Windsor rolled to the blowout victory. Answering for the Blue Devils was Ben Foster, Bronson Nicholas, and Doxtator.
Mike Cameron picked up the win in his season debut, stopping 33 of 39 shots for Windsor. Chris Wood took the loss for London, allowing 12 goals on 56 shots in almost 38 minutes of play. In relief, Corwyn Brown made 25 saves on 32 shots for the Blue Devils.
Holmes was happy with his team’s effort.
“We made them play our game and I’m proud of the guys for that,” he texted en route to the Golden Horseshoe the next day. “Our goal last night was to not let a weaker team like London change our intensity level since we have a big game tonight in Niagara.”
The Thunderhawks, who in the past have fielded teams that have ranged from average to downright pitiful, have built up a contender in recent years. Niagara, rather unexpectedly, waltzed into the Forest Glade Arena last season and shellacked the Clippers in front of muted and shocked hometown crowd.
This time, this season, Windsor was better prepared for the Thunderhawks’ onslaught. Despite this, the ‘Hawks gained the upper hand early as Dave D’Agostino potted the opening goal only 24 seconds in on Clipper net minder Brayden Bell.
A minute and a half later, they were at it again, with Isaac Vanderzalm making it 2-nil. The Clips regained their composure and by the mid-point of the period they answered back. Snipes from Garant and Blain Wallace balanced the table. Niagara answered back soon after with a goal from Kent Baker-Printup, but James Morgan banged one home to knot it at 3 to end the frame.
The Clippers opened the second period scoring early on with Holmes getting his first of the game. Midway through, Ryan Koch of the Thunderhawks would deadlock the game once again.
Holmes tallied only minutes into the third stanza, but the lead would short-lived for Windsor. Niagara took on a 3-goal run with 2 goals from Zach Luis and another from Shawn Moynihan. With minutes to go, Brendan Wallace would shorten the lead to one for the Clips on an unassisted marker.
Not to be outdone, Marchand tied the game in dramatic fashion, scoring with 23 second remaining and sending this one to an extra frame.
The ten minute overtime proved to be a defensive duel to the end. Nearly halfway through extra time, Niagara’s Hunter Lemieux gave his team the advantage and they rode it until the very end.
Bell was strong in net for Windsor, making 42 saves in defeat. Meanwhile, the aptly named Tyson McCool took home the victory with 39 stops of his own.
“[I] would rather play all 20 games against that type of team,” said Kavanaugh about the Thunderhawks. “We had 4 regulars out of the line up, so overall [I’m] pretty happy with the way we played.”
The Clippers will open their home schedule this coming Saturday at the Forest Glade Arena. With a 2-1 record, Windsor will host the Welland Generals that night, then renews their rivalry with the Wallaceburg Red Devils on the following evening as part of a double home stand.