(WINDSOR, ON) – The Windsor Clippers split their games this past weekend and clinched second place in the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League. This was punctuated by captain Logan Holmes winning the OJBLL scoring title, his second consecutive Western Conference title, and becoming the first player to hit the 100-assist milestone in the Clippers fourteen year history.
Finishing second, with their 16-4 record, Windsor will meet the Elora Mohawks in the opening round of the playoffs. The team teams battled to overtime in their only meeting this year, with Elora getting the decision.
“[Elora] is going to force us to play at a high level right away,” said coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “[It] might be the best thing for us. Their offense can be really good. We’ll have to be ready to go.”
The Mohawks, who finished the season tied for second in the super-tight Mid-West Division, finished their season with a 4-3 victory over the top-seeded Orangeville Northmen on Monday night. Their 11-9 record is not indicative of their skill level, as the Mid-West Division is as opposite to the Far-West Division as you can get.
All four teams in the Mohawk’s grouping made the playoffs, while only Windsor survived their own.
In fact, in head-to-head matches against the division, Windsor whooped the Owen Sound NorthStars, dropped one in extra time to the Guelph Regals, and fell to the Northmen on Saturday evening, in addition to the OT loss to Elora. Ultimately, the Mohawks cannot be underestimated.
Elora will be a good team, but the Clippers are all too aware of that.
“We’ll do some film and work on some things this week,” concluded Kavanaugh.
Orangeville, reputed to have the stingiest defense in the league, lived up to that billing as they held Windsor to an uncharacteristic six goals of offense. The Clippers, having the league’s most savage offense, were unable to overcome the Northmen’s eight tallies.
The opening frame was all Orangeville, as they built up an early 2-0 lead on goals from Grayson Houghton and Malcolm Young. Rylan Hartley, the league goals against and save percentage leader, scored the shutout period for the Northmen.
Early in the second, Kyle Waters extended the lead to three for Orangeville. Although Patrick Kaschalk responded for Windsor, Mike Sutton bent the mesh twice to answer the Clippers.
Down 5-1, Windsor finally found their footing and actually outscored the Northmen from that point on. The two teams traded a pair of snipes to close the second.
Liam Leclair and Ryan Marchand found the twine for the home side while Justin Brack and Waters lit the lamp for Orangeville.
A scary collision ended the stanza as Noah Bushnell was thrown from behind into the net by Northmen defender Braydon Cresswell and slammed shoulder first into Hartley’s shin. The goalie’s leg appeared to buckle at the knee before he was launched airborne, and he stayed down for a short while after the whistle.
He would stay in the game, but was visibly shaken.
Still down by four, the Clippers began to build up momentum in the third. Midway through, Marchand picked up his second and third of the game to draw the score to within two.
Windsor seemed prepared to continue their run but, with just under five minutes to go, they found themselves trapped in their own zone. Orangeville passed the rock around the perimeter, killing the clock, until Shane Hillis slammed the ball on net from high in the zone, scoring on a low skipper.
Kaschalk would snipe late with the extra attacker, but it would not be enough as the Clips fell 8-6.
Hartley picked up the win, making 42 saves on the night, while Windsor’s Brayden Bell faced 52 chances in defeat.
“They pressured our offense into mistakes and took away time and space,” reflected the Clippers’ coach. “[We] have to move the ball faster and move our feet without the ball. Also, ball management has to be better. Some of things we get away with all year cost us a couple goals [against Orangeville].”
Holmes picked up four assists on the night. Sitting at ninety-eight going into the game, he reached the 100-assist plateau midway through the third period.
“It means a lot to break another all-time Clipper record,” he said on becoming the first member of the organization to reach the milestone. “I’ve worked very hard behind the scenes and in the off-season to get to where I want to be now. I’m big on my no-look passes and just passes in general. Breaking an assist record means more to me than it would to most.”
The Clippers’ captain was grateful for the late season match-up with the Northmen.
“It brings our intensity up by letting us know how we need to play in order to win games in a series against top teams,” he said.
The next evening, Windsor traveled up the 401 to meet the Hamilton Bengals for the final game of the regular season. The Clippers took the no-holds-barred approach, spanking the Bengals 21-8.
Coach Kavanaugh was pleased with the result.
“Good bounce-back game after Saturday night, not really a strong Hamilton team,” Kavanaugh said.
“It’s just nice to close out the season on top of things, rather than a loss,” he said after the game.
Holmes had yet another big night, tapping in four goals with five helpers. Chase Kavanaugh added four markers to the tally with his four assists, while Marchand nailed a hat-trick in an eight point game.
Blain Wallace had a hatty of his own, while Riley, Andrew Garant, and Kaschalk each contributed pairs, and Austin Thompson picked up the remaining goal.
Scoring for Hamilton were Tanner Brenneke with a triad, Brandon Petter with two, and Michael Mayes, Jimmy Chadwick, and Greg Morrisette with single markers.
Bell and Michael Cameron allowed four apiece in the victory; facing a combined 28 shots. Jackson Brown took the loss for the Bengals, allowing nine goals in 20 minutes, while Josh Daley let in eleven in the final 40. They paired for 40 saves, while the remaining goal was an empty-netter.
With their schedule complete, Holmes is guaranteed to pick up some hardware as he clinched the OJBLL and Western Conference scoring titles with 145 points (38 goals and 107 assists). Garant finished tied for third overall with 108 points (37 goals and 71 assists), while Marchand ended the year in eighth at 89 points (34 goals and 55 assists).
The Clippers offense finished with the highest scoring in the OJBLL and the highest since the team’s inception in 2003, finding homes for 295 snipes.
The team’s goals against was tied for the second lowest in their league and third lowest in team history. The record is still held by the 2006 squad, featuring Matt Soulliere and Corey Scott, which only allowed 116 goals over the course of the season.
Bell, who has played in 14 of Windsor’s 20 games, had both the third best goals against average and save percentage in the OJBLL. Both categories are led by Hartley of the Northmen.
On Saturday, the Clippers will host the Elora Mohawks at 7:00pm for Game 1 of a best-of-five conference quarter-final. They will travel to Elora for Game 2 on Sunday.
- Elora @ Windsor, Saturday June 25, 7:00 pm
- Windsor @ Elora, Sunday June 26, 7:00 pm
- Elora @ Windsor, Saturday July 2, 7:00pm
- Windsor @ Elora, Sunday July 3, 7:00pm *
- Elora @ Windsor, Tuesday July 5, 8:00pm*