(WINDSOR, ON) – A busy weekend for the Windsor Clippers Junior B lacrosse club leads to a home win and a split road trip in the northern reaches of the Western Conference.
“They are just not good,” said Clippers coach Jerry Kavanaugh, reflecting on last Thursday’s home game against the London Blue Devils. The Clippers easily took the game, 16-4, outshooting London 77-23 in the process.
It only took 38 seconds for Blain Wallace to get on the board in the first, snapping a shot past Blue Devils’ goalie Chris Wood. Minutes later, Chase Kavanaugh picked up his own snipe on the power play.
Windsor’s Phil Ristoski took a charging penalty after the goal. The advantage led to Ryan Carruthers snapping home a shot to temporarily get the Blue Devils back in this game.
The Clippers then went on a run, with two goals each from Alex Mayhead and Dylan Riley, along with a single from Craig Marentette.
The period ended with the score 7-1 in Windsor’s favour.
Carruthers was able to get his team back on the board early in the middle frame, scoring two minutes in. The Clippers responded with blasts from Noah Bushnell, Andrew Garant, and Midget Warlocks call-up Will Cecile. London found a little more offense from Quincy Abram, making the score 10-3.
Then, Austin Thompson smacked in another one for Windsor and the Blue Devils opted to pull Wood in favour of Owen Dew.
The goalie switch provided temporary relief for the road team as Kingsley Doxtator responded to the change with a goal. But, the Clippers quickly adjusted. Ending the second on another big run, Riley, Mayhead, Cecile and Brendan Wallace all bent the mesh for Windsor.
The only goal in the third went to Brendan Wallace sixteen seconds in. Dew was still peppered throughout the period, but the shots came with less urgency.
Clippers goalie Mike Cameron made 8 saves for the shutout period.
In the loss, Wood stopped 26 of 37 shots in 28 minutes of play. Dew had better results, only allowing 5 on 40 attempts. Cameron picked up his third win of the season by stopping 19 shots.
“We tried to focus on doing the right things that will help us down the road,” said the coach after the game. “It’s easy to get caught up in the stat-night syndrome where you can get away with doing the wrong things and scoring goals against a team like that.”
The Clippers hopped on their bus Saturday afternoon and headed up to the Scenic City for a much anticipated match-up with the Owen Sound North Stars. Since their first game of the year, where Owen Sound drew a tie with the Six Nations Rebels, most teams in the conference went on high alert.
Either the Rebels had an off night, or the Nor’Stars are in their best shape since the late 1990s, when they were known as the Flying Dutchmen. It turns out the Rebels had an off night.
It took a bit for Windsor to shake off the bus legs, as Owen Sound’s Jordan Caskenette scored only 93 seconds in. Halfway through the first period, the Clippers opened up a barrage of shots on tender Dylan O’Rourke and kept firing.
Before the buzzer sounded, Windsor would get goals from Liam Leclair, Bushnell, and a pair from Kavanaugh to take a commanding, early lead.
In the mid stanza, Patrick Kaschalk netted an early one, then both teams locked down in a defensive battle.
The stalemate was broken with just under seven minutes to go when Zac Coulter banged one in for the Nor’Stars while down a man. Ryan Marchand responded for the Clips with a power play marker, followed by a late short-hander from Brendan Wallace.
The asymmetrical warfare continued in the final frame as Windsor pumped O’Rourke for 5 more tallies. Scoring was Kavanaugh, Josh Jubenville, Marchand, Blain Wallace, and Leclair.
Brayden Bell took home the 12-2 win in net for the Clippers, making 25 saves and collecting a blanked period. O’Rourke faced 41 shots in the loss.
“They are a team that has played some good teams really tough, tied the Rebels, and beat Orangeville,” said coach Kavanaugh about the North Stars. “They have also lost to Sarnia and tied Welland, so [we] didn’t have much of a read going in. We dressed no AP’s for the first time this season [and] I thought we dominated most of the game. [We] put up 12 without Logan [Holmes] or [Andrew Garant] scoring, was good, although they still had a bunch of assists.”
Holmes, in fact, still led his team in points with 6 assists in the game. Garant was not far behind with 4 helpers.
After sleeping at a local hotel, the Clippers attempted to depart for their second road game of the weekend. The bus would not start, stranding the team in mid-western Ontario.
After a delay, the boys hit the road. Initially told by the Guelph Regals that the delay was not a big deal, the Regals later contacted the Clips to tell them to be on the floor for the national anthem at 2:30 or take a forfeit loss.
“Tough day all around,” admitted Kavanaugh. “[We were] stuck at the hotel with a broken down bus. [We] got to the game 20 minutes later, no warm up, anthem was playing before we had everyone dressed.”
Guelph’s James Short scored first, nailing a shot past Bell just over four minutes into the game. Holmes responded on the power play just minutes later.
Further into the opening frame, the Regals’ Jay Milne tapped in another goal to take the lead, but Jubenville found the net, on the advantage, to take a 2-all tie into the break.
The score was a seesaw throughout most of the match. Early in the second, Guelph’s AJ Skirving nailed an unassisted marker to retake the lead. This was answered by Blain Wallace to tie it again.
The Regals then went on a three-goal run, finding scoring from Luke Henderson, Tye Kurtz, and Lucas Dybowski. The Clippers would respond, with Marchand finding the net twice before the period ended.
Windsor finished the comeback minutes into the final frame when Holmes bent the mesh on a pass from Marchand to bring the score to 6-all. Less than a minute later, Short scored again for Guelph, but in short order Kavanaugh tied it up again.
With the game knotted at 7, and ten minutes to go, it was anyone’s game.
The final half-period turned out to be the Regals’ time to shine. At the mid-point of the period, Henderson picked up his second then, with just over five minutes to go, Short completed his hat-trick. At one minute, Milne put the final nail in the coffin, scoring his second tally of the afternoon.
Bell had an uncharacteristic game, allowing 10 goals on 33 shots. Steven Orleman nailed down the win for the Regals with 44 saves on 51 chances.
“[The] offense generated some great chances, but didn’t finish enough and the Guelph tender made some good stops,” explained Kavanaugh in his port-game commentary. “Defence was okay, but not its usual smothering self. [Brayden Bell] had a bit of an off day, gave up a few outside ones that he normally stops. Just one of those days where what could go wrong, went wrong.”
All-in-all, the Clippers improved their record to 8-2 over the weekend, easily topping the Far West Division and good enough for the second best win percentage in the conference. The loss was only the first regulation loss for Windsor, now at the mid-point of the 2016 season.
Captain Logan Holmes continues to lead the entire OJBLL in scoring with 71 points in 10 games played, while Andrew Garant is tied for fifth with 53. Brayden Bell’s goals against average of 5.94 is good enough for fourth best in the league, while his 0.833 save percentage puts him at fifth.
The Clippers are next in action at home this evening against the Point Edward Pacers at 8:00pm. Following this, they host the Elora Mohawks on Saturday at 7:00pm.