Amherstburg Admirals

Admirals bolster lineup with newest signees

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Admirals will have some new faces in the lineup and the local Jr. C franchise is excited to add them.

Forwards Dean DeLuca and Ty Moss have signed with the Admirals while defenseman Aaron Jacobs has re-signed with the team. DeLuca played with the Amherstburg Stars midget major team last season while Moss comes out of the Windsor AAA hockey program. Jacobs played with the Admirals last year.

Admirals general manager/head coach Paul Bortignon said the team is pleased with the latest additions.

“To sign three guys like this is a good start for us going forward,” said Bortignon.

Bortignon hopes that DeLuca and Moss can be top nine forwards with the club, if not in the top six. While the Admirals led the PJHL Stobbs Division in scoring last season, there were points in their playoff series loss to the Mooretown Flags where they needed a goal and couldn’t get one.

The Admirals will take a different approach offensively next season, Bortignon added, as they plan on putting a lot of pucks to the net and players as well.

That style of play could suit DeLuca, who describes himself as a power forward who likes to go in the corners and drive the net. He added he looks for bounces and deflections in front of the net and patterns his game after Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks. DeLuca said he likes how Kesler bangs bodies and still scores goals.

The Amherstburg Admirals officially signed new players Saturday morning. From left: head coach/GM Paul Bortignon, co-owner Matt Fox, Aaron Jacobs, captain Austin Jennings, Dean DeLuca, Ty Moss and co-owner Gaspare Spada.

Moss describes himself as a two-way forward in the mold of Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals. Moss said he wants to make sure he is good defensively but also be able to put the puck in the net in the offensive end.

Moss said signing with Amherstburg is a good “first step out of minor hockey” and believes he can develop and become a better hockey player with the Admirals.

“It’s a good place to start in junior hockey,” said Moss.

DeLuca is happy to stay close to home to start his junior hockey career.

“It’s nice to play in my hometown,” said DeLuca. “It’s going to be fun to try and move up and do something different.”

For Jacobs, he said he is pleased to return to the Admirals lineup.

“I love it here,” said Jacobs. “It’s one of my favourite places to play. I want to finish my career here with a championship, maybe two.”

Jacobs said the Admirals are a close group and called it “a great organization.”

“I love Amherstburg,” he said. “I come here to fish a lot. I like coming out here.”

Jacobs joked he doesn’t go on the Pointstreak website to check out statistics “because I don’t get a lot of points.” He said he doesn’t like getting scored on but hopes to expand his game offensively this upcoming season as well.

Co-owner Matt Fox said the team is excited to add talented players like Moss, DeLuca and Jacobs and believes the team is being steered in the right direction.

“It’s a big step forward,” he said of the new players.

“We got some good pieces today,” Bortignon added after the players officially signed Saturday morning.

Bortignon said the Admirals were “humbled” last season and they are going to take a game-by-game approach this upcoming season and set their goals that way.

Admirals hand out awards at annual banquet

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2017-18 Amherstburg Admirals reassembled Saturday night and celebrated the season, though admitting it wasn’t the result they were looking for.

The local Jr. C hockey team held its annual awards banquet in the Libro Centre’s community room with high hopes for next year and gratitude for the players, coaches, parents and volunteers that helped with this past season. The Admirals season ended in the first round of the PJHL Stobbs Division playoffs after they lost 1-0 in Game 7 to the Mooretown Flags Feb. 18.

“There are a lot of positives going forward,” said co-owner Wes Ewer. “(Co-owners) Matt (Fox), Gaspare (Spada) and I are excited for the future of this team.”

Ewer offered thanks to all who were involved with the team this past season.

“Without the players and parents, we don’t have a hockey team. Thank you for being part of our family,” he said. “I love that we are a tight knit group and I hope we continue that in the future.”

Ewer said they are one of the groups bidding to operate the pro shop at the Libro Centre, saying it would add value to the hockey team.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals held its award banquets Saturday evening at the Libro Centre. Front row (from left): Ben Larder, Reid Stieler, Dylan Muzzatti, Dean Patterson, Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander and Cory Burns. Back row (from left): assistant coach Daniel Slipchuck, Cole Welsh, assistant coach Eric Shaw, Josh Talerico, head coach/GM Paul Bortignon, assistant coach Rob Bondy, Austin Jennings, equipment manager Grant Wood and co-owner Matt Fox.

Head coach/general manager Paul Bortignon agreed, telling the group in attendance at the banquet that “we couldn’t do anything without you guys.” He added they are looking forward to a better result in the 2018-19 season though admitted they would missing having Fox behind the bench. Eric Shaw and Daniel Slipchuk have been added to the coaching staff.

Bortignon said “we had a successful year points-wise” though admitted they didn’t really want a first round playoff match-up with Mooretown. He believed the Admirals will take a big step forward next season, though acknowledged they will have to do so without graduating players Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander, Dean Patterson and Dylan Muzzatti, the latter being the captain for the 2017-18 season.

“It is a precious time,” Bortignon said of the junior hockey experience. “You are going to remember this going forward. Be proud of yourselves. Be proud of what you accomplished.”

The team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was shared by Cory Burns, the PJHL Stobbs Division leading scorer, and Ben Larder, whom Bortignon believes is one of the top goalies in the league. Austin Jennings and Dean Patterson shared the Defenseman of the Year Award with Reid Stieler being named Rookie of the Year.

The John Holzel Photographer Award was shared by the four graduating players. Cole Welsh captured the Don Elvy Teammate of the Year Award while the Earl Allard Coaches’ Award went to Josh Talerico. The Spada Family Bursary was award to Jennings.

Jennings was also named the new captain of the Admirals, with Burns, Travis Campbell and Caleb Paquette being named assistant captains.

“It’s super exciting,” said Jennings, of being named captain. “It’s something I wanted to be since I was a kid.”

Jennings said he wants to help lead his teammates, with the goal being “nothing short of winning it all.” He added he wants to help the younger players as “I want to show them what it takes to be a leader.” Jennings was an assistant captain last year and becoming captain was one of his goals.

“I want to do something good for the town. They’ve been with us through the ups and downs. I want to bring something back for them,” Jennings stated.

The team also paid tribute to the late Tom Schinkelshoek, who was with the president of the team when it was known as the Kingsville Comets and stayed with the team in different roles when the franchise moved to Amherstburg. He returned to Kingsville as president of the Kingsville Kings.

The Admirals will hold summer skates in the next few months before holding their training camp in late August.

The 2018-19 season will get started in September.

Admirals welcome new assistant coach to staff

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Admirals are making some changes to their coaching staff with a local resident and former Jr. C player joining them.

Eric Shaw has signed on to be an assistant coach with the Admirals and will help work with the team’s forwards. Shaw is an Amherstburg native who won four titles in what was then the known as the Great Lakes Jr. C Hockey League (now the PJHL Stobbs Division) with the Essex 73’s.

Shaw, who finished his Jr. C career as a player two years ago, was an assistant coach with the Amherstburg Stars pee wee major team this past season. He said he likes helping younger players develop and wants to give back and pass along what he learned as a player.

Having been a player just a few years ago, he believes he can give a personal insight to current players and work with them to improve. He stated the Admirals have a solid core of players eligible to return for the 2018-19 Jr. C season and looks forward to being a part of it.

“We have a good group of guys coming back and I’m looking forward to the season for sure,” said Shaw.

Shaw added he will do whatever he can to help the Admirals get back to the PJHL Stobbs Division final.

Eric Shaw (centre) is the new assistant coach for the Integrity Amherstburg Admrials. He replaces Matt Fox, who will be focusing on the business end of the Jr. C hockey franchise as Fox is also a co-owner. At left is Admirals GM/head coach Paul Bortignon and assistant coach Rob Bondy is at right.

“Not that I need to do much, they’ve been doing great,” said Shaw. “It’s good to come back and help out.”

Admirals GM/head coach Paul Bortignon said Matt Fox will not be returning to the bench next season as Fox, who is also a co-owner of the Admirals, will concentrate more on the business aspect of the franchise with fellow co-owners Gaspare Spada and Wes Ewer.

“We feel Eric is a great addition to our team,” said Bortignon. “We’re definitely excited to have him and we’re hoping for an exciting season.”

Bortignon said Shaw’s experience on championship teams will help the Admirals, adding that Shaw is well respected both in the Admirals’ locker room and around the league as well.

“I think the guys will respect that,” Bortignon said, of Shaw’s championships as a player. “There’s an instant respect factor for us.”

Assistant coach Rob Bondy, who works with the Admirals defense corps, called Shaw a “class act” who will help the skilled players and other talent on the forward lines.

“I think he’ll really help the younger guys,” said Bondy.

The Admirals are also seeking a video coach and Bortignon said they want to have that coach in place by the April 25-26 mini-camp. He added there are still spots open for the mini-camp and players that are interested can e-mail him at paulbortignon@gmail.com.

“As much as it pains me to say, we’ve taken a step back in the playoffs,” he said, noting their second round exit in the 2016-17 season and the first round exit in the 2017-18 season. “Getting back to the finals is the number one goal for us as we head into next season.”

Groups interested in operating pro shop at Libro Centre

By Ron Giofu

 

While the Canadian Tire Pro Shop will cease to operate in the Libro Centre, other groups are interested in continuing to offer such a service.

The current pro shop will close March 28 and there are rumoured uses for the space, including offices for town employees. Members of the Amherstburg Admirals ownership group contacted the River Town Times stating they are one of the groups interested.

Gaspare Spada, who owns the team with Matt Fox and Wes Ewer, confirmed they sent in a proposal to the town.

“We already have relationships with these groups and would provide them with required services they need,” said Spada. “The transition would be a smooth one.”

Spada said they are confident in their abilities to run a business, noting their rent is paid on time.

“We operate the Admirals here and are in good standing with the town,” said Spada. “We are in the process of renewing the lease for the Admirals and we could include this venture in that term.”

As for discussion of turning the pro shop into offices, Spada said “I’m not aware of that but owning some properties myself, it makes no sense to give up rental dollars for offices. We’ve had meetings in regards to raising user fees for ice rental to create additional income for the town and it would make no sense to take a step backwards and lose rental income. There are some smart people employed by the town and on council. I can’t see this happening.”

Even if it did, Spada said the Admirals remain interested in operating a pro shop at the arena.

“After some discussions among our group, if the town chooses to use that space for their own use, we would consider relocating the pro shop to a different area of the arena if they would allow,” he said.

Efforts were made to contact another of the groups known to be interested in renting the space but those attempts were unsuccessful. There are reports that other parties are interested as well but their identities are unknown as of press time.

Admirals suffer heartbreaking season-ending loss

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The weekend proved to be a heartbreaking one for the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals.

The Admirals, who led the PJHL Stobbs Division quarterfinal three-games-to-one after a 4-0 win in Mooretown Feb. 14, couldn’t close out the series and that included a pair of weekend losses. The final one was a Game 7 loss on home ice Sunday night to the Flags.

Brett Farr’s goal 6:42 into the third period proved to be the game’s only goal.

Mooretown forced Game 7 with a 5-2 win in their rink Saturday night. Bryce McGregor and Broden Meloche had the Amherstburg goals in Game 6 but the bigger loss that night was Ryan Alexander, who suffered a broken leg in the game. Despite his injury and the fact that injury required surgery earlier in the day, Alexander attended Game 7 in a wheelchair to cheer his teammates on.

Josh Talerico (24) takes a shot on Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins in Game 5.

“When you get into a Game 7, you are really leaving everything to chance,” said Admirals general manager/head coach Paul Bortignon. “I think our guys battled hard.”

Bortignon said they had the emotion of having to make up for the loss of Alexander, plus defenseman Austin Jennings played with a partially separated shoulder Sunday night.

“I think our guys did a good job of battling for 60 minutes,” Bortignon said, adding the only goal was a shot from the point that looked like it hit something in front and went in.

The teams limited each other’s scoring chances, he continued, and that it was a closely contested Game 7.

“That was probably the most evenly matched game of the series,” said Bortignon.

The injury bug started hitting the Admirals dressing room after Game 4 and that hampered the team, but Bortignon also gave credit to the opposition.

“Mooretown did a good job capitalizing on their opportunities,” said Bortignon. “(Mooretown goalie) Jake Wilkins was a difference maker in the last three games.”

Amherstburg’s Caleb Paquette splits through the defense during the third period of Game 7 Feb. 18.

Despite leading the PJHL Stobbs Division in offense this season, Bortignon said a problem they had during the season reoccurred in the playoffs including Game 7. He said when they needed a timely goal late, they couldn’t score one.

“You can’t take anything away from Mooretown. They did a great job,” said Bortignon. “We were a game short and couldn’t find the goals when we needed them.”

The Admirals had hoped to close out the series last Thursday night at the Libro Centre but lost 4-2 to the Flags. Mooretown built a 3-0 lead in that game – with the first goal coming just eight seconds in – and didn’t look back, although Amherstburg made it a one-goal game in the second period on goals by Caleb Paquette and Alexander.

Dylan Muzzatti (15) and Travis Campbell (19) console each other after the Admirals’ Game 7 loss.

“We weren’t ready to go,” said Bortignon, after Game 5. “We’ll take responsibility for that. When you get scored on eight seconds in, it’s a coach’s mistake.”

Bortignon said there may have been guys in the locker room looking ahead but gave Mooretown credit after last Thursday’s game as well.

“We lost to a good team tonight,” he said.

In Game 4 last Wednesday, Bortignon said they built a three-goal lead after two periods and were able to get the victory.

“(Goalie) Ben (Larder) was outstanding,” he said.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals salue the crowd at the Libro Centre after Sunday night’s 1-0 loss to the Mooretown Flags in Game 7 of the PJHL 
quarterfinals. The Admirals lost the series four games to three and their 2017-18 season is now over.

McGregor, Brett Smith, Cory Burns and Josh Talerico scored for the Admirals in Game 4.

In the five years the Admirals franchise has been in Amherstburg, it is only the second time the team has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The other time was their first season in Amherstburg, when they lost in seven games to the then-Belle River Canadiens. The team was able to rebound after that and have two straight appearances in the finals as well as a semi-final appearance.

With the win, Mooretown now plays the Lakeshore Canadiens in one PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final series while the Essex 73’s take on the Dresden Jr. Kings in the other semi-final.

Caleb Paquette is turned aside by Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins in Game 7, won by Mooretown 1-0 Feb. 18.

As for the future, the Admirals lose Alexander, Ryan Holzel, Dean Patterson and captain Dylan Muzzatti as they will be too old for Jr. C hockey next year. Bortignon said they do return players like Larder, Burns and Jennings and said those players, among others, will be solid building blocks for the future. He added that management and coaches will be looking for impact players for next year’s team that can contribute immediately.

The Admirals thanked the fans for the support all season, including the over 700 fans that turned out at the Libro Centre for Game 7. Bortignon said the training and equipment staff including Don Mouck, Stu Bertram and Grant Wood are appreciated for their work as are all the volunteers and supporters of the team.