Niagara looked like they might have the answer to the Clipper enigma this past Saturday, between timely scoring, discipline, and hot goaltending despite constant fire. Apparently, coach Jerry Kavanaugh was able to right the course after the weekend loss.
Windsor scored often and without mercy in Niagara-On-The-Lake, blasting their way to a 15-7 victory.
“We tried to get [the] match-ups we like,” said Kavanaugh after the game. “Offensively, the message was about execution, more than anything, making sure to take advantage of chances.”
It took a bit to get going, but once Josh Jubenville cracked the twine behind Hawks goalie David Herkimer, eight minutes in, the floodgates flew wide open.
The parade continued. James Morgan, Craig Marentette, and Ryan Marchand flew to the gate, making the score 4-zip before Niagara could get going. Hunter Lemieux snapped one in next for the Thunderhakws, answered by Windsor captain Logan Holmes.
In the final minutes of the opening frame, Robert McMicking scored a goal for Niagara on the man advantage, followed and unassisted notch by Marentette. McMicking bookended Marentette’s snipe to close the period at 6-3.
Former St Catharines Spartan Kyle Pedwell opened the middle act festivities shortening the lead to two. But, his goal was answered by three quick snipes from Windsor; two for Dylan Riley within 30 seconds of each other, and another from Marchand.
The offense disappeared for a while before Niagara’s Zach Luis broke the stalemate with eight and a half minutes left in the second. Marchand tallied soon after followed by late goals from Windsor’s Patrick Kaschalk and Everett Milberry of the Thunderhawks.
The third was almost all Clippers. Kaschalk lit the lamp twice to grab the hat-trick, Marchand got his fourth for the sombrero, and Andrew Garant nabbed his first snipe of the series. Lemieux responded for Niagara midway through the Windsor offensive, but it was far from being enough to mount a comeback.
Brayden Bell snatched up his fourth win of the playoffs, stopping 23 of 30, while Herkimer’s series numbers took a hit, allowing 15 goals on 49 shots.
Kaschalk kept up his offensive commitment by nailing 3 goals and 3 assists. Marchand was on fire as well adding two helpers to his sombrero.
Holmes and Garant acted in a play-making capacity for their team, each contributing four assists to the cause, in addition to their singles.
Coach Kavanaugh was impressed with what he saw Tuesday night.
“Last night was probably the most complete game we’ve played this year,” Kavanaugh said. “Defense was very good, contained and frustrated their big shooters, [and] Bell was really solid.”
The 15 goals scored were in stark contrast to Saturday night’s opening game.
“Offense got a spark from [our] five fast-break goals,” said the coach. “Jubes [Jubenville], Morgan, Kaschalk, and Marentette all scored breakaway goals. The front door guys did a great job moving the ball and creating chances. We’re really good at getting loose balls after shots and getting extended sets that keep their D on the floor for longer than they would like.”
Now comes an all pivotal Game 3.
“We have to forget Tuesday’s win just as fast as we forgot Saturday’s loss,” stated Kavanaugh. “I’m sure they weren’t happy with last night’s game and will be coming in Thursday looking to get back on track much like we had to after Game 1. We’ll have to step it up even more for Game 3, they are well coached team that isn’t going to go away.”
The winner of the Windsor-Niagara series will play for the Western Conference championship against the winner of the Orangeville Northmen and Six Nations Rebels. Orangeville leads that best-of-five series 2-1.
In the eastern conference, the Clarington Green Gaels are squaring off with the Halton Hills Bulldogs while the defending Founders Cup national champion Akwesasne Indians are up against the Oakville Buzz. Both series are knotted at one.
The Clippers will host Game 3 at Forest Glade Area tonight at 8:00pm.