(WALLACEBURG, ON) – If there is one thing for certain, when the Windsor Clippers and Wallaceburg Red Devils meet the fans are guaranteed their money’s worth. Through 60 minutes of Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League action on Sunday evening, the two territorial rivals traded a total of 99 shots and tallied a whopping 28 goals.
It was the hometown Red Devils who brought the action first. Outshooting Windsor 21-14 in the opening frame, veteran sniper Carter Hastings opened up the scoring just 95 seconds in. Windsor’s Chase Kavanaugh answered back just before the six-minute mark, but was bookended by a pair of Kyle Dawson tallies near the midway mark.
Toward the end of the period, and despite being shorthanded, the Clippers struck back with a pair of markers from Blain Wallace and Brayden Mayea to even the score. Dawson struck again, with just over two minutes left, to gain the hat-trick, but was answered by an unassisted marker from Windsor captain James Morgan, to end the frame.
The Red Devils came out hot in the 2nd with goals from Tyler Brown on the power play and Hastings. The Clippers played catch-up with snipes from Brendan Wallace and Kavanaugh. Marshall Powless scored just under seven minutes in for Wallaceburg, but was answered by Warlocks midget call-up Zane Dalpe who, in turn, was responded to by Corey Lucier for the Red Devils.
Finally, at the midway point of the frame, the Clippers found some momentum. A four-goal run featuring another unassisted Morgan marker, Noah Bushnell, Kavanaugh on the power play, and Mayea while shorthanded, changed the pace of the game for good.
A pair of late goals from Wallaceburg’s Tanner Cole, and Kavanaugh ripping the mesh for a hat-trick, finished the period with Windsor up 12-10.
The two teams went back and forth in the third as Jordan Goddard, Kyle Dawson, and Brown scored for the Red Devils and Bushnell, Mayea, and Kavanaugh responded for the road warriors. Windsor’s 15-13 win ended a nine-game winning streak for Wallaceburg.
Carson Hebner improved his record to 6-3-0 in net for the Clippers, stopping 34 of 47 shots, while former Clipper, Brayden Bell, turned aside 29 of 40 in the loss. His backup, Cecil Jacobs, appeared for nine minutes in the second, stopping 8 of 12.
“Wallaceburg was the usual high-intensity start, big, loud crowd,” said Clippers’ head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “Our goal was to try to keep the game 5-on-5 as much as possible. They do a great job on the power and extra attacker situations. We wanted to avoid that. With a few big pieces out with injuries, [Josh] Rosa and [Andrew] Clark, other guys were forced into bigger roles and came through.”
The win gives the Clippers the season series tiebreaker over Wallaceburg if there is a tie situation at the end of the regular season.
“After losing Saturday night, this was an even more important game for us in the standings,” said Chase Kavanaugh after his five-goal night. “Coming into this game, we’ve given them their only loss so far … We want to put ourselves in the best possible playoff position and that starts with winning the division. Even with missing a few key guys on the front and backend, we played a really solid game all around.”
The night before, the Clippers’ seven-game winning streak was ended by the two-time defending national champions, the Orangeville Northmen, by a 10-7 score.
In what was maybe the most frustrating game of the season for Windsor, the Clippers got an early start when Kolton Couvillon and Darian Delisle both pounded home rubber in the opening two minutes of the game, but soon fell victim to a five-goal Northmen run to close out the period.
Scoring for Orangeville were Liam Smith, Mitchell Bernier, Tanner Buck, Jeremy Searle, and Jake Dithurbide. Two of these goals were power-play markers.
The Clippers regrouped for the middle act and the two teams deadlocked, leading to 12 minutes of scoreless ball before Kavanaugh broke back onto the scoreboard. The Northmen reared up, however, as Smith tallied on the next play and Dithurbide extended the lead to 7-3 four minutes later.
Late in the frame, Orangeville ran into penalty trouble, resulting in a pair of man-up markers from Mayea and Kavanaugh. In the dying seconds, a freak misplay killed the momentum.
With the goalie out, the Clippers pressed to bring the game within one, but lost possession. With only seconds on the clock, Josh Goodwin was given the ball at centre for the Northmen and whipped it on net, striking Evan Mihalic on the arm, who was standing in the crease.
The period seemed to end without consequence until a last-second referee’s conference led to the shot being called an automatic goal; a handball in the crease by a defensive player voiding a scoring chance can be called a penalty shot and, with no goalie in the net, the goal is automatic.
The Clippers were incensed by the call, and Bushnell who, to his credit, has taken a much more leadership-orientated role on the floor in the past few games, was assessed a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The bad mojo continued into the final stanza.
Buck scored an early power play goal after Blain Wallace was assessed a hitting from behind double minor and coach Kavanaugh was ejected from the game just after the seven-minute mark. As the game continued, the humid conditions in the arena turned the floor into a slip ‘n slide.
A couple late goals by Blain Wallace and Mayea made the game interesting and the Northmen’s captain, Cameron Spencer’s, failed attempt at running Hebner late in the game on a loose ball had the arena roaring. Ultimately, a late, empty-net goal by Spencer sealed the Clippers fate.
Hebner stopped 31 of 39 shots in his third loss of the season, while Orangeville’s Keegan Madden turned aside 32 for the W.
“[The] Orangeville game started great; [we] scored on our first two shots,” recalled coach Kavanaugh. “We then took three consecutive undisciplined penalties, they went up 3-2, and we were forced to chase the rest of the game. Some sloppy offence and terrible floor conditions made it tough to get back in the game. We had three goals called back, two crease calls, and an interference that stopped any momentum that we had built. [The Northmen] are always a very smart lacrosse team that makes almost no mistakes. When you take undisciplined penalties and make mental errors they capitalize every time.”
The Clippers, who are tied for first with Wallaceburg for the Far West Division lead, will next be in action on May 31 as they host the London Blue Devils (0-11-0) at 8pm at Forest Glade Arena.
Windsor, who has seven games remaining in the regular season, will only face one team in the remainder of the schedule which currently has with a winning record; Wallaceburg at 10-2-0.
The Red Devils, with eight games remaining, do have a strong team, but have yet to meet the three teams to whom Windsor has lost; Orangeville (6-3-0), the Elora Mohawks (9-0-0), and Six Nations Rebels (12-0-0). The two rivals have one remaining matchup before the playoffs on June 14 at Forest Glade Arena.