(WINDSOR, ON) – Last Thursday, the Windsor Clippers junior lacrosse club’s fifteenth season came to a close with a 9-6 loss to the Orangeville Northmen. The Clippers put up a valiant effort, but came up short to the defending Founders Cup national champions in their Ontario Junior B Western Conference semi-final series.
“I think considering we lost 10 guys from last year, we finished right around where we expected,” said Clippers head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “We were able to get a bunch of young guys in over the course of the season. That experience should help us going into next season.”
With a division title and a berth into the second round of the playoffs, the season turned out better than expected.
“What should have been a rebuilding year, we were able to stay in the top three of the league,” said the coach. “[We were] led by some really good seasons out of veteran guys.”
The game in Orangeville marked the end of the careers of Andrew Garant, Phil Ristoski, Dylan Riley, Austin Thompson, Jesse Macdonald, and long-time goalie Jacob Corra.
“Corra won some big games for us over his career,” said Kavanaugh. “Never quite grabbed the starter spot but kept working. Great teammate, regardless of whether he was dressed or not.”
Corra played four seasons for the Clippers amassing an 18-7-0 record in 32 games in net. His all-time save percentage in Junior B is .765 with a goals against average of 9.03.
“My time as a Clipper was fun,” explained Corra. “Lacrosse is always fun and exciting, but being able to play with your best friends and compete at a high level of lacrosse made it an even better experience. It was an honour to wear that logo and being able to represent Windsor.”
The 2017 season was Macdonald’s only year with the team. A solid defenceman in 26 games played, he strung together five points and 29 penalty minutes.
“Joining the Clippers for a year, and it being my last for lacrosse, it was a bit nerve-wracking,” said Macdonald. “Once I met the guys, they thought of me as being on the team for five years. Playing for Jerry and the other coaches was amazing and I wish I could do it all over again.”
Thompson was the consummate Clipper. In five full seasons with Windsor, he grew into a key defensive player and their main draw-man. With 135 games under his belt, Thompson accumulated 26 careers goals, 85 points, and 232 penalty minutes.
“It was the best time of my life,” added Thompson. “[A] very well ran organization, great coaching staff, and great fans.”
Riley was another five-year Clipper and after his first year became a consistent output machine on offence. In 108 games, Riley scored 139 goals, tallied 249 points, and rarely saw the inside of the penalty box.
“When the big fella was going we were tough to beat,” stated Kavanaugh. “Combination of size and skill few players have. Always a classy player that played a hard but clean game.”
Ristoski, a third year Clipper, has grown into a talented D-man. In 65 games, Ristoski may have only put up 14 points, but that wasn’t why he was there. He gained 41 penalty minutes, but was another key part of Windsor’s defence.
“Getting to be a Clipper and putting on that jersey is pretty special and it isn’t just given to you; you have to earn it,” stated Ristoski. “All the dry land and other activities were well worth it in the end because it has made me not only a better player but a better person as well.”
Garant had the season of a lifetime in 2017 and is arguably the most dominant player to have ever suited up in the black and gold.
This year, Garant surpassed long-time teammate and friend Logan Holmes to become the Clippers all-time leading scorer with 548 points. He became the first Clipper to reach the 500-point plateau and broke the single season scoring record with 146 points.
As well, and according to Wampers Bible Of Lacrosse website, Garant moved into 13th overall in Ontario Junior B history for career regular season assists, 27th all-time in league regular season points, 16th overall in combined regular season and playoff assists, and 38th in combined points.
Garant has set himself apart in Windsor Junior B lacrosse history.
“It’s been the best five years of my life,” said Garant. “I couldn’t be more happy to finish my career and play five years with the organization that I grew up watching. And, being able to be the captain my last year was an honour and a dream. I’m gonna miss the practices and bus rides with the guys, but most importantly being able to put on that jersey every game. It goes by quick, but it’s been a long 18 years of Windsor lacrosse that I’ll never forget.”
For more information on the Windsor Clippers, visit WindsorClippers.com.