(WINDSOR, ON) – After their season-opening drubbing of the London Blue Devils, this weekend the Windsor Clippers Junior B lacrosse club were brought back to reality with a pair of suspenseful battles with the Hamilton Bengals and Wallaceburg Red Devils. A pair of games where the new team chemistry was tested, showed strengths and growing pains, and, ultimately, showed a lot of potential.
On Saturday, the Clippers traded goals all night with the Bengals in their home opener at Forest Glade Arena, but came up one short.
“It was just back and forth all game,” said Clippers head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “It seemed like whenever we’d get a little momentum, they’d get it right back.”
Hamilton goalie Dylan Sprentz was remarkable in the visitors’ net as he was peppered all night long and played a pivotal role in holding off a late Windsor surge.
“I think we put up 58 shots, so it isn’t like we weren’t getting opportunities, but we gotta get better at shot selection and where we’re putting the ball,” said the coach.
The Clippers were down 3-2 after the first, as Yvon Bolduc opened the scoring for the Bengals, while on the power play. He was answered by Windsor rookie Jackman Schooley, who potted the first goal of his junior lacrosse career.
Bolduc replied in short order, followed by Brendan Wallace for the Clippers, and one more by the road team’s Ty Argent.
The see-saw battle continued in the second.
Hamilton’s Josh Millette sniped early before Chase Kavanaugh ripped the mesh for the home team. Millette popped another to re-establish the two-goal lead for the Bengals, but the Clippers struck back to tie it with howitzers from Kavanaugh and Liam Leclair.
Late in the period, the Bengals retook the lead with an unassisted snipe by Jacob Parkinson.
In the final act, Clippers’ captain Andrew Garant put one up-and-over Sprentz to knot the game, but midway through the third Bolduc completed the hat-trick, making the score 7-6.
A late power play for Windsor and some great looks with the goalie pulled did not pan out, leaving the home team with their first loss of the young season.
“I think we took them a bit lightly at first,” said Garant after the game. “At the end of the day, the offence has to just come down and bury. Me, myself, I missed a couple shots where I’ve got to scoop up and bury those shots.”
Veteran goalie Jacob Corra turned aside 35 shots in the loss.
“Defensively, we played very well and Corra was solid,” said Kavanaugh. “There may be one or two that he’d like back, but defensively we played with pretty high pressure.”
The next night, the Clippers carted off to Wallaceburg for their first meeting with the Red Devils, a team with a ton of key returning veterans. In what would amount to a marathon 14-14 overtime tie, the Clippers turned to rookie goalie Joel Evans for the second time this season.
The young tender faced 58 shots during the game and still came out with the point, to his credit.
Chase Kavanaugh led his team with five goals and three assists, followed by Garant who tallied a pair of snipes and six points on the night. Blain Wallace snapped home a hat-trick, while Alex Mayhead, James Morgan, Brendan Wallace, and Liam Leclair all picked up singles.
The Red Devils have a considerably balanced offence, with Cole Tanner, Corey Lucier, and Parker Gilhuly each blasting three apiece, Vern Hill and Carter Hastings with two each, and Tyler Davis netting the remaining goal.
Veteran tender Noble Jacobs took the tie at the other end, stopping 35.
“Wallaceburg is a solid, experienced team this year,” said Leclair, who played a solid defensive game in addition to his snipe. At one point, the Clippers led by a five-goal margin.
“We got up on them early in the first, but penalty trouble cost us,” said Leclair. “The second period did not go our way. We didn’t play to our ability at all and made a ton of mistakes. We were in the box a lot and their power play was solid tonight.”
Leclair and his teammate are viewing the tie as a learning experience.
“We were able to salvage a point, but we’re still seeing it as a missed opportunity,” added Leclair.
The Clippers will have the ability to right the ship this Saturday when they travel to Merritton to face the St Catharines Spartans. The next night, they will play host to Wallaceburg at Forest Glade Arena at 7 pm.