Windsor Clippers Are Firing On All Cylinders
By Devan Mighton
Since their founding in 2003, the Windsor Clippers have been a dominant force in the Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League.
In their first 15 seasons, the Clippers, originally known as the AKO Fratmen, have accumulated 12 Far West Division titles in addition to a Western Conference regular season title as well.
As of late, the Clippers have been stronger than ever. Recently led by future National Lacrosse League draft picks Logan Holmes and Andrew Garant, the team has made a name for itself as an offensive powerhouse. Last year’s club, with Garant as captain, capped off their fifth consecutive winning season and division title, followed by an exciting playoff run that was cut short by a tenacious Orangeville Northmen squad.
This year’s team, so far, is following the trend. Head coach Jerry Kavanaugh’s Clippers are fiercely competitive, yet again, with a 6-2-0 record as they near the mid-point of the season. Their only losses saw them fall a goal short against the only two undefeated teams remaining in the Western Conference, the Six Nations Rebels and Elora Mohawks. Of their wins, Windsor has out-muscled the Hamilton Bengals, Niagara Thunderhawks, and their chief rivals the Wallaceburg Red Devils, while decisively pounding the London Blue Devils and Point Edward Pacers twice.
Their leadership core is built around the captaincy of fifth-year transition specialist James Morgan. Morgan, who began his Clippers career in 2014, came into the season a veteran of 116 games with the Black and Gold. Despite a short stature, Morgan builds his play on fast footwork, heads-up ball movement, and a team-building mantra.
His assistants are Chase Kavanaugh and Alex Mayhead.
Kavanaugh is another fifth-year veteran who has built his junior career on a high-flying style and a dynamic scoring punch. With career highs last season of 45 goals and 120 points, the all-around offensive threat finished second in league scoring in 2017 behind teammate Andrew Garant.
Mayhead, a native of Brigden, started his junior lacrosse career in 2013 with the Point Edward Pacers. After parts of three seasons, he was moved to Windsor. Mayhead is a hard-nosed transition player who is dominant on the defensive side of the ball, but also has a knack for sneaking up on offence occasionally. He is an aggressive defender who is not afraid to lay the wood to an opponent, but can also utilize his impressive reach and speed to impede an adversary.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Clippers are being led by their youth movement.
The combination of rookie Brayden Mayea and sophomore Six Nations Arrows prospect Jake Rosa on the left side, with 80 points of production eight games deep into the 2018 season, has asserted dominance over the opposition. The pair currently sits second and third, respectively, in the OJBLL scoring race.
In addition, Kavanaugh is up to his old tricks again, racking up points, while tough guy Noah Bushnell has stepped up the offence on the right.
The right side is lacking three of their most exciting snipers. Nathan Salaris and Jackman Schooley, who had standout rookie seasons in 2017, are still off at Kiskiminetas Springs Preparatory School in Pennsylvania while veteran Blain Wallace is in Florida at Keiser University. They are expected to have a huge impact upon return.
Transition, led by Morgan and Mayhead, will be a big part of the Clippers’ success this year. Fourth-year veteran Brendan Wallace and rookies Andrew Clark, Will Cecile, and Jonathan Jenkins are showing off speed at both ends and rewarding their team with points.
Defence is looking young, strong, and fast. With Darian Delisle, Chad Marentette, Matt Fraser, Kolton Couvillon, Aaron Dugan, Blair Cosgrove, and Drew Denomey guarding the house, the goaltenders are seeing the shots they need to see.
In the net, the standout play of sophomore Carson Hebner has wowed the team’s fans. His play has been outstanding thus far. With a 0.840 save percentage and a 4-2 record, his 226 saves have him ranked among the league’s leaders. His back-ups, rookie Chase Cosgrove and Liam Tomes, have proven effective in relief for Hebner, although he has not really needed them yet.
Hebner’s stature, which is a little on the short side for a lacrosse goalie, is augmented by his extremely technical play, using smart goaltending to upset his opponents.
With players off at school, the Clippers have benefitted from the help of affiliates. Some of these stand-ins, like Connor McManus and Blake Patterson, have racked up decent points in their time with the big club, but the help of others like Evan Mihalic, Josh Jacobs, Alex Hossack, Jacob McLellan, and Kaden Brennan cannot be understated.
As the 2018 season speeds along, the boys of summer are pushing for some lacrosse glory. With the midway point of the season bearing down and the playoffs just around the corner, the Clippers will continue to serve as the hottest ticket in town for exciting and gritty sporting action.
Windsor Clippers schedule