(POINT EDWARD, ON) – The Windsor Clippers are quickly picking up steam as the 2018 season progresses. After a slow start, playing two of the best Junior B lacrosse clubs in the nation, the Clippers have gone on a six-game winning streak and are again looking like the force to be reckoned with in the OJBLL’s Far West Division.
On Saturday night, the Clippers were caught flat-footed out of the gate against the St Catharines Spartans, at Forest Glade Arena, but quickly turned it around and never looked back.
Noah Bushnell continued his latest offensive tear by opening the scoring two minutes into the game. However, a four-goal run from the Spartans seemed to quickly dowse Windsor’s momentum. Scoring for St Catharines were Mario Caito, Jacob McMillan, and Connor Aquanno with two power play markers.
In a blink, the Clippers came back.
Leading scorer Brayden Mayea started the charge with under seven minutes remaining, followed by Chase Kavanaugh. Will Cecile drew the game even at 4-4 with less than five minutes left and, with the goalie out, Bushnell struck again on a buzzer-beating laser to take the lead into the break.
During the intermission, the Windsor Warlocks tyke travel team took to the floor for a rather boisterous and entertaining mini-game full of end-to-end action and heavy hitting. The scrimmage ended in a well-earned 1-1 tie.
When the Clippers returned to the floor, they kept up the pace. Led by a “natural sombrero” by Kavanaugh, Windsor took the period with a 6-1 score. In addition to Kavanaugh’s four goals in the frame, Evan Mihalic and Jake Rosa each bent the twine. The lone St Kitts goal was scored by Sam LeClair.
The third period belonged to starting Clippers goalie Carson Hebner, who turned aside 18 chances for the shutout frame. He faced 41 total shots in the victory. Mayea and Rosa each scored again on the power play to cap off the 13-5 win.
“We started a little slow,” said Clippers’ head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “But, [we] finished the first period well and had a great second period. Some penalties both ways in the third slowed the game down a bit. Even though we only play them once a year, there is always a little extra intensity when we see Spartans compared to the other out-of-division teams.”
Chase Kavanaugh had a five-goal night, showing his usual highlight reel form in the win.
“I think the whole team knew we would have no problems as long as we could stay 5-on-5 and I think that showed throughout the game,” said the Clippers forward. “Offensively, we dominated the last half of the first and it carried into the second period. And, between the defence and Carson, they didn’t let in a single goal the last 25 minutes of the game.”
The next day, the Clippers had a bit of a close call against the Point Edward Pacers in Sarnia.
“We talked before Sunday’s game about getting better starts. We had that in Point Edward but, unfortunately, that’s where it ended,” said coach Kavanaugh.
Despite leading 4-0 through the first 15 minutes, on two blasts from Mayea and singles from Brendan Wallace and Jake Rosa, things went a little south from there. A pair of snipes by Jakob Knowles for the Pacers brought the score to 4-2 at the break.
In the middle stanza, Point Edward kept chipping away. A shorthanded marker by Kevin Durco brought the game to within one, but Mayea pushed back a few minutes later. Then Point Edward set the pace.
A three-goal run from Nate Armstrong, Korey Conroy, and Durco gave the Pacers their first lead of the game. Mayea struck again for Windsor, just under seven minutes in, but Point Edward retook the lead with a Jack McAuley power-play blast a minute later.
Mayea picked up a man-advantage marker of his own with under eight minutes remaining, gaining the hat-trick, but the Pacers grabbed the lead again just a half-minute later with another Knowles goal. The Clippers seemed to finally find their bearings late in the frame with a pair of snipes from Alex Mayhead and Rosa to go into intermission up 9-8.
In the third, the Pacers knotted the game even 4:20 in, on a tally by Conroy, but some clutch defence and timely scoring from Rosa and Kavanaugh clinched the 11-9 win for the road team.
“Our energy level wasn’t where it needs to be,” said coach Kavanaugh. “[Our] defence was a little slower than usual and the offence was streaky. We were able to hold on for the W, but easily our worst effort of the season.”
Cosgrove made 25 saves in his first career Junior B start, picking up his second win of the season.
“We get [Blain] Wallace and [Nathan] Salaris back for this weekend. That should help balance the offence,” the coach said.
The Clippers (8-2-0) are in action this Thursday as they travel to Lambeth to face the winless London Blue Devils (0-10-0).
Their next home game is Saturday night when they host the two-time defending national champion Orangeville Northmen (5-2-0) at 7pm at Forest Glade Arena. The Windsor Warlocks paperweights (aged 3-6) will lend their support with a mini-game during the first intermission.