(ORANGEVILLE, ON) – It was not the start they had hoped for. The Windsor Clippers Junior B lacrosse club dropped Game 1 of their Western OJBLL final 9-2 against the Orangeville Northmen. The Northmen are already this year’s hosts of the Founders Cup national championship and do not seem satisfied to qualify for the tournament by default.
The Clippers, just coming down from the adrenaline and euphoria of their fifth game victory against the Niagara Thunderhawks, met the better rested and justifiably confident, top-seeded Northmen on Friday night at the North Dufferin Arena. Despite the lopsided score, things started off well for Windsor, as the two teams engaged in a defensive battle early on.
“We were getting scoring chances, kept them to low percentage, outside shots,” said coach Jerry Kavanaugh.
Things changed when the Clippers started taking penalties. Zach Deaken scored two possessions in a row for the Northmen, once during a roughing power play against Noah Bushnell and another right after with less than four minutes left in the opening frame.
Phil Ristoski was assessed a hooking minor with a minute and a half remaining and Orangeville’s Riley Thompson cashed in only thirty seconds later. Andrew Garant would reply for Windsor with 46 seconds left, but the Clippers were left down two at the buzzer.
“The second period, we started showing some fatigue,” explained the coach. “They dominated loose balls and possession time. We got frustrated with playing a lot of defense and took a few penalties. I think the two day layoff compared to them with five days off was a factor.”
The Northmen would put together a 4-0 middle frame, with two goals from Mike Sutton, and singles by Grant Scott and Justin Brack. Rylan Hartley made ten saves for the shutout period.
Shane Hillis and Sutton scored in the third, while Ryan Marchand added one more to Windsor’s tally.
Orangeville outshot the Clippers 45-28, with Hartley making 26 saves in the win and Brayden Bell stopping 36 of 45 in defeat.
The Northmen, reputed as defensive specialists, showed they have a flair for the offense as well. Their special teams were particularly potent in Game 1, sniping four power play markers and one while shorthanded, but they shutdown every man-up situation Windsor was awarded.
“We have to try to match the speed they play at,” stated Kavanaugh. “Possession time is huge and our special teams have to be much better. I expect the guys to respond.”
Game 2 will be at the Glade tonight at 8:00pm. Down 1-0 in the best-of-five series, the Clippers need to win to keep pace.
The winner in the West will face the eastern champion in the OJBLL final. Competing for the East’s Colby Hancock Memorial Trophy are the Clarington Green Gaels and Oakville Buzz. The series is knotted at one, but quickly becoming a series for the ages.
Game 1 was a double overtime epic, won by Clarington, while the second saw Oakville blow the game wide open in the first, only to almost give it up in the second. The two teams locked down their defense in the third, with the Buzz carrying the edge.