(ORANGEVILLE, ON) – A daring Windsor Clippers comeback was spoiled by the Orangeville Northmen in Junior B lacrosse action Saturday night and it all came down to a final loose ball. The good news, despite the loss, is that Windsor has mathematically qualified for the playoffs, but could finish anywhere from third to sixth place depending on how things play out.
Playing on the road Saturday, the Clippers found themselves at an early disadvantage when Orangeville’s Nik Farrus opened up scoring on the power play only four minutes in. Captain Andrew Garant answered two minutes later for Windsor, drawing the game at one.
The Northmen then struck out on a three-goal run, catalyzed by a shorthanded marker from Scott Dominey, fed on a pass from goalie Daniel Tanner. Jordan McKenna and Malcolm Young rounded out the run, making the score 4-1 at the midway point of the opening frame.
James Morgan responded for the Clippers soon after, but Orangeville’s Kyle Waters popped a goal just over two minutes later. With just over five minutes left, Chase Kavanaugh notched his first of the game, but quick goals from Tanner Buck and Grant Scott extended the Northmen lead.
A final first-period snipe by Noah Bushnell brought the Clippers back to within three.
In the middle stanza, the two conference rivals traded goals throughout. Scoring for Windsor was Garant with two, Kavanaugh, and Brendan Wallace, while McKenna, Grayson Houghton, and Colin Courtney put up markers for Orangeville.
In the final act, already leading by two, the Northmen’s Shane Hillis added an insurance for his team less than a minute in. Then the Clippers put on a run of their own.
Wallace, Garant, and Dylan Riley each dented the mesh behind Tanner, leveling the game at 11. Orangeville would not lay down, however.
On another shorthanded play, Tanner dished the ball to teammate Ty Mikulik to take the lead, but on the same advantage, Riley scored just 29 seconds later to re-knot the game. Down to the final seconds, it came down to who could get the loose ball, call a time-out, and implement a set-play.
With all the cards on the table, Orangeville recovered the loose ball and got the much-coveted pause. On their well implemented set-play, with their goalie out, Farrus threaded the ball behind Clippers’ goalie Joel Evans with three seconds to spare, stealing the game.
Tanner turned aside 29 of 41 attempts on his net to pick up the win, although backup Keegan Madden did get a minute of playing time, stopping two. Evans was peppered in the loss, blocking 40 of 53 that came his way.
“[I am] obviously disappointed that we lost with the last three seconds, but today was a big game for us, only having 16 guys,” said Garant after the game. “I thought the offence had their best game of the season tonight and it was great to see. No one gave up, which was huge for us, and I know the boys are ready for a big game Tuesday [against Wallaceburg].”
Garant has been racking up the points this season, picking up eight against Orangeville and leading the league with 119. He sits at 489 points all-time, second overall behind former teammate and Buffalo Bandits prospect Logan Holmes (493).
With three games left in the season, as well as the playoffs, he has ample time to overtake the record.
Two nights before at home, the Clippers decimated the London Blue Devils 23-1. Garant led the way with four goals and 10 assists, followed by Kavanaugh with three goals and nine assists. Rookie Jake Rosa had an excellent night as well, netting a hat-trick and adding eight helpers.
Also scoring for Windsor was Blain Wallace (3), Brendan Wallace (3), Nathan Salaris (3), Craig Marentette (2), Jackman Schooley, and Jonathon Jenkins. Carson Hebner picked up the win in net, stopping 22 of 23.
It is a week of far-reaching consequences for the Clippers, who sit a win behind the Wallaceburg Red Devils for first place in the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League’s Far West Division. On Tuesday, the Clippers meet the Red Devils for a pivotal fourth match-up in their seasonal series, game time is 8:00pm at Forest Glade Arena.
“It’s gonna be a huge game for us,” said Garant. “We are 1-1-1 with them and we don’t want to lose the series to them, so the game is huge. We need these points for playoffs, so this game on Tuesday will be our hardest game left and we need to win.”
In an attempt to add stability to the goalie rotation, the Clippers signed Windsor-native Liam Tomes to help between the pipes. Tomes was brought up in the Windsor Warlocks minor system, but most recently played Midget ‘A’ in Oakville.
On Thursday, the Clips will play at home again, this time in hopes of avenging their previous loss to the Point Edward Pacers, the game starts at 8:00pm as well. Then, on Sunday at 2:00pm, Windsor will head to London for a regular season-ending rematch with the Blue Devils.