(WINDSOR, ON) – Final possession, in their own zone, down by a goal. Ten seconds to cover 200 feet of floor, set up a play, tie the game. It just didn’t happen this time.
Playing the Six Nations Rebels (5-0), the most dominant franchise in Canadian Junior B history with seven Founders Cups to their credit, the Windsor Clippers (2-1) knew that it was going to be a tough match. Riding the high of last weekend’s 16-12 win over the Wallaceburg Red Devils, the Clippers engaged the Rebels at Forest Glade Arena Saturday night.
In the first period, the two teams traded goals, coming out tied 3-3. Darian Delisle, Brayden Mayea, and Chase Kavanaugh blasted the Six Nations net for Windsor, while the road team saw scoring from Gates Abrams twice and Chayton King.
The Rebels came on strong in the middle act. A four-goal run blew the game wide open with two more tallies from Abrams and a pair by Kobe Whitcomb. Late in the frame, the Rebels ran into penalty trouble and the Clippers took advantage to battle back to a 7-6 score, with power-play goals from Mayea, Delisle, and Noah Bushnell.
In the final stanza, Windsor Warlocks’ midget and Juiced Cherries’ standout, Connor McManus, opened up, scoring to draw the game even. Soon after, Six Nations’ Riley Miller potted a pair, but was answered by another highlight reel goal from McManus to keep the home team in the game.
Kahn General pushed the Rebels lead to 10-8 with just under seven minutes to go, but was responded to by a Mayea power play marker. With 89 seconds remaining, Miller added an insurance marker to obtain the hat-trick.
With the goalie out, Kavanaugh wove a little magic to bring the score to 11-10 and give the Clippers a legitimate chance at forcing overtime. The Rebels killed the clock and, with a little bad luck and not enough time for the Clippers, they squashed the comeback.
Hebner (1-2), despite losing, continued to impress in net, stopping 42 shots. At the other end, Keegan Thomas turned aside 36 of 46 attempts for the win.
“[I] thought we had a really good start,” said Clippers’ head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “[The] offence had chances in the first couple shifts, hit a few posts early. [The] defence did a good job keeping them to the outside [and] Hebner was really good.”
The difference maker for the Rebels was veteran sniper Gates Abrams of Basom, NY, who scored four goals for six points on the night.
“We had some matchup trouble with their big righty [Abrams], huge guy with soft hands,” said Kavanaugh. Also, the “refereeing was very inconsistent, tough to figure out what was allowed most of the game. They went up a few goals, but we kept coming and were able to stay in it, cut the lead to one late, and get the extra attacker out for a chance to tie. Not our most complete game, some sloppy moments.”
Windsor is still short a number of regulars to school commitments, including Nathan Salaris and Jackman Schooley.
“We are pretty confident we can play with anyone in the league,” he said. “To play Elora and Nations to one-goal games with some of the guys still away shows our depth. We’ll have some tough line-up decisions once everyone is back – that’s a good thing.”
The Clippers are next in action on Thursday night against the London Blue Devils at Forest Glade Arena, starting at 8pm.