(WINDSOR, ON) – With a trifecta of wins to close the season, the Windsor Clippers lacrosse club have clinched both their fifth straight playoff appearance and Far West Division title. The Clippers, who finished fourth overall in the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League’s Western Conference, will meet the Wallaceburg Red Devils in the opening round of the playoffs.
Windsor had one more win than the Red Devils in the regular season and won the season series with a record of 2-1-1.
Captain Andrew Garant and Chase Kavanaugh finished 1-2 in league scoring, with Garant shattering the Clippers’ single-season point record (146) in the final minute of their season-closing game against the London Blue Devils on Sunday. He is now the all-time Windsor point-getter and first Clipper to reach the 500 point plateau.
With the playoffs still remaining, Garant sits with 516 career points to date.
On June 15, the Clippers hosted the Point Edward Pacers in a must-win game. Having beaten the Wallaceburg Red Devils only two days before, Windsor was tied for first place in the Far West Division, but holding the tiebreaker over the Red Devils.
The opening frame was a back-and-forth affair with the Clippers exiting the period up 3-2. Kavanaugh, Noah Bushnell, and Craig Marentette scored for Windsor, while Jack Dunn and Korey Conroy tallied for Point Edward.
Already on a two-goal run to start the middle act, Kavanaugh, Garant, and Bushnell each hammered shots past former Clippers goalie Brayden Bell. Garant’s tally was a classic.
Shorthanded, Garant worked the ball around the Pacers attackers and dancing through them. Breaking free in the neutral zone, Garant swept in on Bell with a clear-cut breakaway and blasted the shot past the Point Edward tender.
The goal was point number 500 for the Clippers’ captain.
The Pacers caught their breath and returned with a run of their own. Blain Adams, Cody Burr, and Jacob Caughlin all found space behind Clippers starter Joel Evans. But Evans and his teammates buckled down and battled right back.
Windsor ran up an eight-goal run, over the course of 12 minutes of play, late in the second and into the third, including two snipes from Kavanaugh and singles by Garant, Jake Rosa, Alex Mayhead, Marentette, Bushnell, and Blain Wallace. The Clippers led 14-5 just four minutes into the third.
Partway through the scoring run, Bell appeared to land hard on his side when traversing his crease. He left the game and did not return.
The final score ended up 18-8, with additional Windsor scoring coming from Brendan Wallace, Kavanaugh, Bushnell, and Dylan Riley. Jakob Knowles, Dunn, and Caughlin rounded out the scoring for Point Edward.
“It was obviously a big game,” explained Kavanaugh. “Last year, we knew how important home floor was, so here we were able to get three really good games in a row. Just trying to get on the right track, especially right before playoffs.”
Kavanaugh scored five goals and collected another five assists in the game. Some of his goals were simply unbelievable, leading to his teammates giving him nicknames for his video game-like moves. A game before, against Wallaceburg, he picked up point 100.
“It feels good,” said Kavanaugh. “Every year, we lose a guy [like Garant or NLL prospect Logan Holmes], but when you’re kinda next in line, you take on that responsibility … it feels nice, but I’m just glad we’re getting wins.”
Clippers coach Jerry Kavanaugh dwelled on Chase’s highlight reel goals.
“About once or twice a week, the whole bench just kinda goes ‘ew’,” he said. “He’s on a roll right now, which is perfect going into the playoffs, because we need him to be a big part of the offence. It’s perfect timing to catch fire.”
Bushnell, for his part, put up three goals and four assists on the night, showcasing a talent which is often hidden behind behind his aggressive play.
“The skill level’s always been there, it just been a matter of controlling the emotions and staying in games,” explained his coach. “It’s sometimes been an issue, but he’s been fantastic for us, especially in the last half of the season.”
Evans picked up his second straight win in net for the Clippers, stopping 32 of 37. Veteran Jacob Corra took to the pipes in the third, turning aside five. At the other end, in just over 44 minutes of play, Bell blocked 37 of 51 Windsor attempts, while Braiden Shaw stopped seven in relief.
“It’s not what I expected, but I knew we were capable of it,” said coach Kavanaugh. “The last couple games, we’ve been flying and our offence has been looking really good. We changed our style defensively, do a little more pressing and causing turnovers which, again, gives us more offensive chances.”
On Sunday, the Clippers traveled to London for an afternoon match to end the season. Windsor took the game 19-5 over the Blue Devils to clinch first overall with a 13-6-1 record.
Garant led the way for the Clippers, scoring four and adding eight helpers. His final goal, a breakaway with 16 seconds to go, put him past Holmes for the single season points mark. Just one more notch in the belt for Garant’s amazing season.
Brendan Wallace led all Clippers in goals, scoring five, while Bushnell netted a hat-trick. Riley and Kavanaugh each popped two goals, while Austin Thompson, Chad Marentette, and Blain Wallace tallied once.
For London, Greg Elijah-Brown netted two while Daniel Carruthers, Owen Dale, and Damon Doxtator all sniped a single. In net, Liam Tomes made his Clippers debut, turning aside 32 of 37 for the win, while Chris Wood and Shane Evans split the loss for the Blue Devils, lambasted with 93 attempts.
Windsor opens their playoff series tomorrow night with an 8:00pm start at Forest Glade Arena against the Wallaceburg Red Devils.