Clippers On the Brink
(WINDSOR, ON) – The Niagara Thunderhawks are a tough team, but so far they haven’t been able to find steady ground against the Windsor Clippers in their Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League quarter-final series.
Last Saturday, the Clippers hosted the Thunderhawks at the Forest Glade Arena for Game 1 of their series.
Led-off by an 18-save shutout period by Windsor goalie Carson Hebner, the Clippers built up a seven-goal run on a Zane Dalpe hat-trick and pairs from Blain Wallace and Jackman Schooley, cruising to a 16-7 victory.
Dalpe bent mesh five times in the matchup, followed by Schooley with four – each having eight-point nights. Wallace finished with two, with singles going to Brett Barnes, Nathan Salaris, Max Payton, Jonathan Jenkins, and Darian Delisle.
Responding for Niagara was Connor Watson with two, Brett Beetow, Ryan Kydd, Zachary Belter, Kellen Pulera, and Christian Watts.
Hebner picked up his first victory of the post-season, stopping 33 of 40. Josiah LaForme had the start for Niagara, with Brandon Rickard coming in relief and taking the statistical loss. The tandem turned aside 25 chances of 41.
“We played well,” said Clippers’ head coach Jerry Kavanaugh. “[We] generated lots of scoring chances and kept their offence to mostly outside shots. Goaltending was the difference, Hebner was rock solid and their guy had a bit of an off-night.”
Game 2 took place at Niagara-On-The-Lake the following afternoon and, at the beginning, the Thunderhawks enjoyed the hometown familiarity.
The ‘Hawks started the game on a three-goal run with tallies from Brandon Sveda, Pulera, and Nathan Maloney. Wallace broke up the home team’s offence before the midway point of the period.
Niagara opened the scoring in the second with a blast by Devin Napolean but Jenkins and Schooley responded to bring Windsor back within a goal.
Napolean scored again before the midway point but was answered by Dalpe. Beetow gave the Thunderhawks a 6-4 advantage into the second intermission.
Dalpe scored midway through the third to bring the Clippers within a goal but Maloney regained the advantage minutes later. Wallace then blasted two rockets past Niagara goalie LaForme to knot the game at 7-7.
A late post off an empty net by a Niagara runner failed to solve the game and the two teams went to an extra frame.
Barnes, Schooley, and Dalpe each lit the lamp, taking a lead that a late marker from Napolean could not overcome as Windsor took a 2-0 lead in the series with a 10-8 win.
Hebner improved his playing record to 2-0, stopping 36 of 44, while LaForme turned aside 29 of 39 for the loss.
“We knew they would come out flying in their building and they did,” said Kavanaugh. “Down 3-0 in the first, we had to settle down and get back to what made us successful in Game 1.
“Down [by] two heading into the third, our defence and Carson held them to one [goal] and gave the offence a chance to get us back in it. [Wallace] scored twice late, and with the help of the crossbar, we got it to OT, where, I thought, we dominated the 10 minutes of OT.”
So far, the series has been remarkably clean as both coaches have maintained disciplined play in their ranks. In 41 goals scored in the series between the two teams, only Windsor has some special team offence with a single power-play and shorthanded marker.
The Clippers have a chance to close out the best-of-five series at home on Saturday night as they host the Thunderhawks at Forest Glade Arena for Game 3 at 7 p.m.
will be a battle,” said Kavanaugh. “It’s not easy putting teams away
and we don’t have a lot of guys that have been in this position before.
I expect Niagara to have their best game of the series – we have to be
ready to match the intensity level.”