(WINDSOR, ON) – The Windsor Clippers lacrosse club played three games in four nights, from last Thursday to Sunday, winning two of their matches and finishing with a close loss to the Elora Mohawks.
On Thursday in Point Edward, the Clippers outshot the Pacers 71-40, but were only able to pull out the win in the final minutes of the third. Former Clipper Brayden Bell stood tall in the home team’s crease, stymieing the Windsor attack for much of the first two periods.
An early three-goal run by Point Edward’s Jakob Knowles, Cory Burr, and Jack McAuley was answered by a pair from Windsor’s Craig Marentette before the opening period could end. In short order, to start the middle frame, Burr netted two more with another from Jack Dunn which gave the Pacers a 5-2 lead.
Eight minutes into the second, Windsor came to life.
As the period played out over the final 12 minutes, the Clippers outscored Point Edward 8-3. Dylan Riley picked up the natural hat-trick, James Morgan and Noah Bushnell each added a pair, and Blain Wallace snapped home a single. The Pacers responded with scoring from Burr, Dunn, and Blain Adams.
“We came out in the first period and had a little bit of a slow start on both ends,” said Riley after the game. “Offensively, we were getting our opportunities, just not finishing, and [Brayden] Bell was playing well.”
Trailing for the first time in the game, by a 10-9 score, Point Edward answered early in the third to retake the lead with goals from Dunn and Logan Scott. Despite this, the Clippers were quick to respond and outpaced the home team through the rest of the game, winning by a 16-13 score.
Scoring in the third for Windsor was Bushnell, Marentette for the hat-trick, Riley with his fourth, Andrew Garant, Jake Rosa, and Nathan Salaris.
Tallying for the Pacers was Josh Barraclough and Callahan Doughty.
“[Riley’s] been real good since he’s come back from school,” said Clippers head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “That right side with him and [Bushnell] causes a lot of mismatches for defenders. I think there are 500 lbs between the two of them, so that’s some big bodies there and skilled guys too. I think it is the combination of [Riley and Bushnell] that are making it tough for teams to handle.”
In the second period the Clippers found new life. Riley’s natural hat-trick was a catalyst in the surge.
“We came out and started playing a lot better than the first,” he said. “Defensive started getting out on shooters hands and preventing shots and our offence started clicking … We took some undisciplined penalties throughout the game which helped them stick around, which is definitely something we have to get better at as a team.”
The third was gut-check time for Windsor.
“It was a big character period for the team, showing what we’ve got and having to really dig deep to complete the full game; which helped us come out on top,” said Riley.
Keeping up his scoring way, Garant added eight assists to his goal while Chase Kavanaugh contributed another six helpers. Jacob Corra picked up the win in net, blocking 27 of 40, while Bell was peppered in the loss, turning aside 55 shots while keeping his team in the game.
Two nights later, despite being outshot 44-39, the Clippers hammered the Owen Sound North Stars by a 13-5 score at Forest Glade Arena. Jordan Caskenette opened up the scoring for the North Stars in the first, but was answered by a seven-goal Windsor run.
Riley picked up another natural hat-trick, rookie Jackman Schooley hammered home a pair, while Garant scored once in the first and again just seconds into the middle stanza. Caskenette shortened the Clippers’ lead to five a minute and a half into the second, but was answered with another Windsor run.
Bushnell, Salaris, Morgan, Garant, and Kavanaugh all sniped to run the score up to 12-2 before the midway point of the period. Caskenette scored before the halfway mark to pick up a hat-trick, followed by a late period goal by teammate Josh Deyell.
Marentette tallied for the Clippers in the third as did Owen Sound’s Wyatt Barfoot to close out the game.
Rookie Joel Evans picked up his second win of the season, stonewalling the North Stars with 39 saves.
“It felt pretty good,” said Evans, after picking up his first career home victory. “The boys were ready to come out and play. It felt great to win in our hometown … Being a rookie on this team, I’m loving it. This win definitely boosts the confidence for me.”
Evans is in his first year of junior eligibility and has put up decent numbers so far.
“I think [Evans] was really solid,” said Kavanaugh. “We were hemming and hawing before the game, who was going to start. Corra played [against the Pacers], made some big stops during that game, struggled on some too, we thought we’d give Joel a look here. He showed up today, definitely made some big stops, especially early when our offence was just starting to get rolling.”
It was a rough night for the Owen Sound tenders, Wes Hamilton and Garrett Reed, who combined for only 26 saves in the loss.
“[The North Stars] seemed to deflate a little bit after that big lead we had,” said the Clippers bench boss. “That’s a better team than they showed tonight. I think they had a bit of an off-night, which is fine for us; we’ll take the two points.”
Evans impressed his coaches between the pipes and was gifted a start a night later on the road against the formidable Elora Mohawks. In what amounted to a great defensive battle, both Evans and Mohawks’ goalie Landon Kells, with the help of both teams solid defensive cores, kept the game low scoring and suspenseful until the end.
Owen O’Donnell and Justin Beaulieu scored the only goals of the first, giving Elora a 2-0 lead. Windsor’s Jesse Macdonald blasted an unassisted, shorthanded marker early in the second to cut the gap. The Mohawks responded with a goal from Kurtis Woodland, but a pair of snipes by Rosa and Salaris knotted the game midway through. Late in the act, Elora’s Klayton Hoelscher retook the lead for the home team.
In the first half of the third, Kavanaugh and Garant each tallied for the road warriors, but the Mohawks responded with goals from Woodland and Dawson Bolger to secure the win.
Evans had another solid night, shutting down 35 attempts, while Kells tallied the win, stopping 40.
At the midway point of the season, Garant leads the Clippers with 69 points in 10 games. Hammer started the season in sixth place on the all-time scoring list with 370 points, but has already moved into second place behind friend and former teammate Logan Holmes.
Currently sitting at 439 points in his Junior B career, Garant requires 55 points to surpass Holmes, a prospect with the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League.
“The way we’re running our offence, [Garant’s] going to get a lot of touches,” said coach Kavanaugh. “We’re running through him a lot, sort of like I did with [Holmes] last year, so he’s getting a lot of touches and making good decisions, which is the biggest part. He’s not forcing shots or anything, he’s moving the ball really well, picking up a lot of assists … there’s no reason he can’t keep it up.”
A pair of home games are on the docket for the Clippers this week, as they host Pacers Thursday at 8:00pm and the Niagara Thunderhawks on Saturday at 7:00pm. Both games are at Forest Glade Arena.