(WINDSOR, ON) – It was a weekend of ups and downs for the Windsor Clippers Junior B lacrosse club. At one end, the Clippers were able to celebrate a couple easy victories and a pair scraps that had fans talking. The other end saw the Clippers lose a key player to a gruesome injury and drop another overtime game against an opponent that looked like they wanted it more.
“We wanted to not turn it into a gong show, which happened the last time up there,” said Coach Jerry Kavanaugh about Thursday’s game, at home, against the Point Edward Pacers. “We played really well, it was 12-1 after the second and ended up 17-6.”
They game started slowly, but Windsor’s Dylan Riley scored the first goal of the match just before the midway point of the first frame. Not long after, Ryan Marchand extended the lead. Austin Thompson then took a roughing penalty and the Pacers capitalized. Korey Conroy nailed the power play marker with 5:30 remaining in the period to cut the lead by half.
In the dying minutes, Blain Wallace and Marchand added a pair more to take it to the locker room.
The second stanza was all Clippers. Scoring by committee, Andrew Garant, James Morgan, and Liam Leclair each nailed two, with single snipes from Logan Holmes and Marchand, Windsor racked up an 8-0 run on Point Edward. Accenting the devastation was the mid-act lambasting captain Logan Holmes laid on the Pacers’ Josh Barraclough.
“They sent out their supposed tough guy and it didn’t work out so well for them. They might have to go to Plan B next time,” reflected Kavanaugh. “I think [Holmes] landed a whole bunch of rights and a few lefts, just for good measure.”
Goalie Brayden Bell, who stopped all 8 shots in the middle frame for Windsor, was rested in the third in favour of Mike Cameron.
The Clippers continued their massacre in the third. Marchand scored his fourth goal to collect his sombrero, Garant picked up his hat-trick, Riley sniped again, and Craig Marentette got in on the fun. Noah Bushnell also went looking for a fight, managed to land a couple shots, but with not full-time partner, was asked to leave the dance floor all alone.
With the score 16-1 in their favour, boys sat back a little too much. In the final eleven minutes, the Pacers attacked Cameron relentlessly, shooting from atop his crease at will. Cole Wilkinson ended the scoring drought for Point Edward, but was quickly answered by Leclair’s third goal of the night. Wilkinson blasted Cameron again only 20 seconds later, followed by a snipe from Brett Barnes and a pair from Blain Adams.
Regardless, the game was already long over.
Bell picked up the win in net with 18 saves over 40 minutes and a shutout period, while Cody Haas faced 63 shots in the loss for the Pacers.
“There was a couple scores that needed to be settled that were taken care of by the boys, we kinda knew that was gonna happen going in. So we beat them up on the score sheet and in the back alley, I guess,” mused Kavanaugh.
Despite the celebratory tone after the game, a point of trouble emerged. With the game well in hand, transition specialist Brendan Wallace took a hit away from the ball while returning to the bench. The urgency on his face as he ripped off his shoulder pads and jersey, behind the bench, said it all. As he was walked back to the team locker room by the training staff, he covered his snapped and protruding collarbone with his hand to spare people their worry.
The coach was saddened by the premature end to Wallace’s season. “It’s a huge loss, he’s been, arguably, one of our best players right from the hop. The things he does on the back end with the active stick, knocking balls down, [a] loose ball maniac; he gets the ball out of our zone really fast. As of right now he’s out 4-6 weeks with no contact. I think he’s getting surgery on Wednesday, so most likely [Brendan’s] done for the season.”
Saturday night, Bell received the start again for the Clippers as they hosted the Elora Mohawks for the only time this season. It didn’t take long for this game to get rolling, with Elora’s Cole Spear nailing a shot only two minutes in to get the early lead.
Bushnell and Chase Kavanaugh replied for the home side, only to be book-ended by Shawn Lantz to knot the game at 2. Patrick Kaschalk and Josh Jubenville both blasted shots past the Mohawks’ Matt Humphrey, but the advantage did not last long. With five minutes remaining, Lantz lanced the Windsor net again with a goal on a delayed penalty. Down to one possession Elora pulled Humphrey for the extra attacker. Spear received a pass, wide open in front of the net, and went behind his back to beat Bell and the buzzer with a highlight reel goal.
With the score 4-all, the Clippers found some room to move early in the middle frame. Kavanaugh bent the mesh again and was followed by bomb from Garant to take a two-goal lead. Nonetheless, the Mohawks kept coming; Spear netted a hatty and Ryan Johnston tied it back up before the period was half over. Windsor ended the act on a positive note, with Blain Wallace giving them a late lead.
In the third, Elora showed no surrender. Dawson McKenzie blasted two, followed by Kurtis Woodland, to give the Mohawks a crowd-silencing 2-goal lead with less than seven minutes to go in regulation. Chase Kavanaugh was not going down without a fight. With a crazy, second-effort, last man standing kind of play, Kavanaugh fought through multiple Elora defenders and side-armed a shot past Humphrey to get his team back within one. Then, with two minutes remaining, the Mohawks’ Riley Palmer took a holding call at the most inopportune time. The Clippers worked it around for a bit; Garant to Kavanaugh – in.
Just like the rest of the game, Windsor could not maintain momentum in overtime.
Elora found scoring early and often in the extra time, with goals from Woodland, Jared Bouwman, Riley Palmer and Chris Jolly on an empty net. The Clippers’ lone goal was scored by Garant with the goalie pulled.
Humphrey made 46 saves for the win, while Bell stopped 48 of 60.
“Rough one, we came out kinda flat,” said the coach after the game. “We had stretches where we looked really good, but we gotta put a full three periods together, which we didn’t do tonight. We had moments where we were really flat throughout the game.”
The next evening, the Clippers looked to redeem themselves, on the road, against the London Blue Devils.
Garant led the way with three goals and four assists in a 15-9 win for road warriors. Holmes looked to lead by example, moving the ball around, while collecting five assists, and getting into it early with London’s Quincy Abram. Kaschalk had a great night as well, netting four snipes with six points. Also scoring was Blain Wallace and Marchand with a pair each, and singles to Marentette, Kavanaugh, Thompson, and Bushnell.
London responded with Sean Campbell and Ben Brown each netting two, and individual markers to Abram, Ryan Carruthers, Kaden Bevan, and Garret Conquer-Van Heumen.
Cameron scored the win in net, making 8 saves on the night. Bell played the third, stopping 7 of 8. Chris Wood took the loss for London, allowing 14 goals on 50 shots in 49 minutes, while Chris Dew stopped 16 of 17 in relief.
The Clippers have met some tough opponents in the past two weeks. The teams of the Mid West Division have proven resilient and unpredictable, as Windsor has lost two of three against them.
“It’s not like we can’t play with these guys,” said Kavanaugh after the loss to Elora. “We are still going to be a really tough team to beat three times in the playoffs, but we gotta make sure we handle these teams that we’re going to run into in the playoffs. It’s one thing to go through our division and beat up on Sarnia, Wallaceburg, and London, but that really doesn’t mean anything. Beating the Rebels was great, but the Elora team and the Guelph team we just played, those are games that we really needed to win.”
The playoffs are looming, with only seven games to go in the season, but there is still a lot of time left. “[It’s] disappointing, but with three losses right now we’re still in the top four seeds. Niagara still has a few games with Nations to play, so will see what comes out of that.”
“You want to be in the top three seeds for sure, we were hoping to be looking at one, but we’re going to need a little bit of help to get there.”
It is another big week for the Clippers. Wednesday evening, they head north to Wallaceburg to renew that rivalry at 8:00pm. On Saturday, the St. Catharines Spartans come to town for another marquee match-up at 7:00pm. Then, Sunday, Windsor will return to Point Edward for the final time this season. Game time is 3:00pm.