Lightning Watch: Can Lightning strike thrice?

With the 2014/15 National Basketball League of Canada season upon us, the London Lightning will not be defending champs for the first time in its history. The Lightning, two-time NBLC Finals champions, lost its bid to three-peat in a hard-fought semi-final series with the Windsor Express. That series went seven games, culminating in a very eventful final game.

While geographic location certain plays a role, this rivalry has been built over the past two seasons through many hard-fought games.

Step by step, we have a look at why this season opener is going to be just as heated as the last number games these teams have played.

While Windsor has only been in the league for two years, the team has continually had a great backcourt. In a league where guards are so important, Windsor has always had skill at that position.

Whether it is Darren Duncan or Stefan Bonneau, the team always matched up well with London. Though Windsor has always had the upper hand at this position, it has recently lost its veteran presence at guard, as both Bonneau and Duncan have left the team.

Bonneau and Duncan were important pieces when Windsor won the title last season. They grinded down London up until Game Seven at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, where they crushed the Lightning – advancing to the final.

London has more than five players returning to the team this year, a pretty high number considering the amount of turnover in this league. These players will be looking to get one back on a Windsor side who ended up winning the NBLC title.

Finally, the league’s most physical player turns out to have a connection to both teams. DeAndre Thomas, who was allegedly cut by London two years ago for not losing weight, was quickly picked up by Windsor, and has since been frustrating teams throughout the league.

Standing at 6 ft. 8 in. and weighing over 300 pounds, Thomas has managed to get under the skin of London – especially during that last game.

Thomas famously confronted a number of Lightning players and coaches before Game Seven, eventually leading to the eviction of London Free Press reporter Morris Dalla Costa, which managed to garner national media attention.

The London Lightning and Windsor Express kick off the NBLC season when they play each other at Budweiser Gardens on November 1 at 7 p.m.