(WINDSOR, ON) – Both teams are desperate to win, but only one can tonight. Both teams have passionate and dedicated fan bases, neither wants their team to lose. But in the end, when the final buzzer goes, everything must be left on the floor.
On Wednesday night at the Forest Glade Arena, Game 3 between the Windsor Clippers and Wallaceburg Red Devils left the floor and spilled into the realm of stupidity.
Let’s not focus on that right now. It may be the talk of the town, but it is not the most important thing that happened Wednesday night. The important thing – one heck of a lacrosse game took place at The Shipyard.
The Clippers did not reel after their 17-11 weekend loss to the Red Devils – leveling the series at one apiece – no, they battened down the hatches and played one tight game of lacrosse on Wednesday night.
Fueled by a five-goal performance by Chase Kavanaugh and an extra-solid outing between the piped by Joel Evans, the Clippers powered their way to an 11-8 victory and a stranglehold on the series.
In the opening stanza, a pair from Kavanaugh and a single from captain Andrew Garant were enough to give Windsor a 3-1 lead into the break. Wallaceburg’s Evan Mathany picked up a power play marker for the Red Devils’ lone goal.
In the second, Wallaceburg’s Vern Hill and Dylan Riley for the Clippers tallied twice each, while Kavanaugh and the Red Devils’ Sidney Powless each bent mesh once.
The game opened up further in the final act, Kavanaugh added two more, as did Garant, while rookie Jake Rosa dazzled the crowd with a tally of his own for Windsor. For the Red Devils, Kyle Dawson made his mark on the game with a pair, while captain Corey Lucier and Powless each added one.
“We really came ready to play,” said Evans after the game. “We didn’t have any sloppy periods. All three were solid. We had our special teams ready to go, defence and offence. We just came ready to play because we knew it would give us a commanding lead and going to their barn [for Game 4] – we know we have to come ready to play.”
“We knew they were going to be coming,” said Clippers’ head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “They needed to win one in this barn to get through the series, so we figured Game 3 was going to be the game that they came hard on. I don’t think they wanted to wait until Game 5 to try and get one, so we made a adjustments to the lineup – tried to inject a little more speed on the back-end… It seemed to work well; our defence worked really well and Joel [Evans] had a solid game as well. I think we are winning ball-battles and taking care of the ball – which hurt us in the first two games, we lost a lot of those – and got careless with the ball; and turnovers hurt us, so we did a better job of taking care of the ball today.”
After the buzzer, the antics began.
Wallaceburg’s Jeff Williams was assessed a match penalty for a slash, just to start.
Then, as the two teams piled off the floor, support staff for both clubs and some unruly fans met at the barrier separating the two clubs in the hallway.
Water bottles went flying from the Red Devils’ side of the rink, before a member of Wallaceburg’s coaching staff charged the barrier with a wooden goalie stick, striking a fan on the Clippers’ side of the median.
Some punches were thrown and the police were called.
In the end, a member of the Wallaceburg coaching staff was arrested and on Thursday the Windsor Police announced charges for assault with a weapon.
“It starts with their coaching staff,” explained Kavanaugh. “The entire game they’re yelling over to us and they send out [Williams] to chop and hack at the end. That’s just who they are, you know that going in, but then when the crap starts there at the end and them throwing water bottles down here – whatever. You know that going into a series with these guys … they’re a lot of really nice players, I’ve got a ton of respect for their team – zero respect for their coaching staff and that’s just the way it is. I think, if you were to ask around the league, that’s the sentiment from pretty much every other team in the league.”
According to the official gamesheet, Clippers’ coach Jerry Kavanaugh and Red Devils’ assistant coach Jamie Knight were both handed game misconducts, while Wallaceburg head coach Justin Durston received a gross misconduct penalty, which guarantees a minimum suspension.
To his credit, Red Devils goalie Noble Jacobs was as solid as ever, peppered with 50 shots, stopping 39.
For Windsor, Evans put on a show, shutting down pivotal chances for the Red Devils all night long. He stopped 33 of 41.
“My mindset going into the game was worry about the next shot, stay positive and to not be down on myself,” said Evans. “But, overall, when the boys are ready to play, we’re all solid – defence, offence, and goaltending.”
On Saturday, the Clippers are forced to climb the mountain they have yet to summit this year – win at the Wallaceburg Memorial Arena – and take the series or fail to and take their chance in an all-pivotal Game 5.
“We just need to be focused and ready to go,” said Evans. “We know the fans are gonna get crazy, but I think we’re used to it by now and are gonna use that to get us going.”
“I think [we’ll stick to the] same game plan for the most part,” said Kavanaugh. “We’ve gotta match their speed, we’ve gotta match their intensity, we know it’s a tough place to go into. They’re going to be hopping; I’m sure it will be a packed house. Chances are, if we do win that game we’ll be fighting our way out of that building, but we’re fine with that.”
Announced on Thursday, the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League has ordered both teams to provide paid security for all remaining games in the series.
Game time on Saturday will be 4 p.m.