Clippers Gear Up For Playoffs
(WINDSOR, ON) – Hot off the heels of clinching their seventh straight Far West Division title, the OJBLL’s Windsor Clippers (12-3-2) are heading into the playoffs geared for war.
With an offence that gelled as the game went on and a progressively stingier defence led by captain Chad Marentette, last week the Clippers hosted the Wallaceburg Red Devils (3-14-1) and took them out with a dramatic 10-7 come-from-behind victory.
The Red Devils, who are eliminated from the playoffs, came out flying against their arch-rivals.
Goals from Aaron Underwood and Tanner Cole gave Wallaceburg an early lead, but a snipe from Windsor’s Max Payton broke up the run.
Underwood tallied again, but Payton responded on the delayed penalty.
Brody Genyn and Cole scored before the period was out to give the Red Devils a 5-2 lead into the break.
In the second, the Clippers started to assert themselves, with Payton completing his hat-trick and Wallace bending mesh twice. Hunter Santsche scored Wallaceburg’s lone goal.
In the third, Windsor stepped on the gas, with blasts from Nathan Salaris, Jackman Schooley (2), Wallace, and Conner McManus.
Underwood scored the Red Devils’ only goal.
The offence was spread around fairly evenly for Windsor, with Josh Rosa, Salaris, Payton, and Schooley all picking up four points on the night.
Between the pipes, Clippers’ tender Chase Cosgrove improved his record to 6-1-1, stopping 39 of 46 chances, while Wallaceburg’s Cecile Jacobs turned aside 45 in the loss.
“[We were missing] a few guys for the Wallaceburg game: [Zane] Dalpe away for hockey, [Matt] Fraser suspended, [Darian] Delisle and [Jacob] McLellan injured,” said Clippers head coach Jerry Kavanaugh.
“[We] didn’t start well and played from behind most of the game; defence got better as the game went on; offence got rolling the last eight minutes and pulled out the win.
“[We] needed a W after the Elora loss and have to start playing playoff style lacrosse these last three games, more disciplined and taking care of the ball better than we have.”
As it stands, the Clippers sit fourth place in the OJBLL’s Western Conference with three games to go. They are one point behind both the Hamilton Bengals and Elora Mohawks and if the season were to end today would either play the Owen Sound North Stars or Niagara Thunderhawks in the opening round.
Between the pipes, Windsor’s goalies are standing out from the pack. Cosgrove leads the OJBLL with an .854 save percentage, sitting just behind him in third is partner Carson Hebner with an equally solid .848 save percentage. Only Hamilton’s Lucas Nagy has a comparable percentage (.849) to the two of them at this juncture of the season.
In scoring, Dalpe, who wasn’t available on Thursday, sits ninth in league scoring with 85 points in 14 games.
To help augment the offence, the Clippers have made a deal to acquire Point Edward’s leading scorer Jack Dunn (72 points in 17 games) and veteran Brett Barnes (41 points in 17 games).
“We were able to pick up two 21-year-old offensive players from Point Edward,” said Kavanaugh.
“Jack Dunn and Brett Barnes are both fifth-year guys, that have played close to 100 games each in our league. Barnes fills a big spot on our left side where we have been short all year.
“Malikye Good and Luke Grove have done a great job for us as midget call-ups, but being able to add a big 21-year-old 30-goal scorer before the playoffs, where it gets much more intense and physical, is huge.
“Same can be said for Dunn. Not a big physical guy, but very skilled and knows how to play in this league. Our right side has been a little more crowded than the left, but we expect him to come in and be a key contributor right away – he’s a 70-plus-point guy that can help both our PP and 5-on-5 offence.
“Our younger guys have done a really good job for us to this point, but if we have learned anything in our five years here is that the playoffs are a different beast and you can’t underestimate the value of 21-year-old guys that have been through the intensity level and physicality of a playoff run.”
The Clippers finish off their regular season on the road this weekend with games tonight against the Point Edward Pacers (4-13), Friday against the Six Nations Rebels (18-1), and Sunday against the Elora Mohawks (13-3-1).