(WINDSOR, ON) – And just like that, the Windsor Clippers are off to the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League’s Western Conference semi-final.
The Clippers, the fourth-seeded team in The West, were expecting a long, drawn-out series with the Niagara Thunderhawks, but some clutch goaltending, strong defence, and timely scoring gave them a three-game sweep.
With the series win, the Clippers flexed some muscle on the penalty kill at 83.3 per cent – second best in the opening round – and had the third-best goals per game average at 12 per match.
Zane Dalpe (16 P), Jackman Schooley (14 P), and Blain Wallace (13 P) were the main offensive push for Windsor, but Nathan Salaris, Jack Dunn, Darian Delisle, Brett Barnes, and Max Payton often contributed.
Carson Hebner (3-0) was solid in net for the Clippers, making 118 saves in 189.5 minutes of playing time. His timely stops and steady .837 save percentage gave the team backbone while the Thunderhawks were pressing.
The top-seeded Six Nations Rebels will be their next foe as the two teams square off for Game 1 of the conference semi-final at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena on Friday night.
“The key to the series for us will be minimizing our mistakes and turnovers,” said Clippers’ head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “The Rebels thrive on making you pay every time you turn the ball over. Their transition from defence to offence is deadly and how we handle and control that part of the game will be the difference in the series.”
The Rebels ran, who finished with a 19-1 regular season record, fell into some unexpected trouble against the eighth-seeded Guelph Regals in the first round.
Despite winning the series and rocking the Regals by an 18-4 score to open the round, Guelph rebounded in Game 2 to even the series with a 9-7 win.
Although the Rebels did not lose again, they never were able to put the boots to the Regals again as they did in Game 1.
Six Nations had the top power play in the OJBLL in the opening round, scoring at a whopping 53.3 per cent. They also averaged the second least goals against at 6.25 per game.
Their offence is built around league-leading scorer Marshall Powless, who racked up 20 points in four games in the opening series. Sidney Powell, Daylen Hill, Chayton King, Wes Whitlow, Tayton Skye, Mason Hill, and Weylon Abrams are also all known to crack twine.
Veteran goalie Briley Miller (3-1) sits between the pipes for the Rebels, playing all 240 minutes, with a .795 save percentage, in the first round.
“Our offence has to be very conscious of the shot clock and make sure we have guys getting to the bench early to get our D guys on the floor and take away as many fast break opportunities as possible,” said Kavanaugh.
“Defensively, I think we are confident 5-on-5, minimizing odd man chances will be important. Offensively, while being responsible for containing the transition, we have to generate consistent chances. If we can keep their D focused on trying to stop us, they will have less opportunity to take chances in transition.”
In their two meetings this season, Windsor and Six Nations went to overtime in the Clippers’ home opener, thrilling the local crowd despite the Rebels prevailing, and near the end of the season, the Rebels shellshocked an under-manned Windsor squad.
With both teams flying on all cylinders, this could be a series for the ages.
- Game 1 at Six Nations, Friday, July 5th @ 8:00 pm
- Game 2 at Windsor, Tuesday, July 9th @ 8:00 pm
- Game 3 at Six Nations, Friday, July 12th @ 8:00 pm
- Game 4 at Windsor, Sunday, July 14th @ 7:00 pm (if needed)
- Game 5 at Six Nations, Monday, July 15th @ 8:00 pm (if needed)