Paul Bortignon

Roughly 90 players attend Admirals’ spring mini-camp

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals got a look at some possible new talent over two days last week.

The Admirals held their spring mini-camp last Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Libro Centre. Approximately 90 players competed at the camp, something that impressed management with the local Jr. C hockey club.

“Overall, it was a good turnout,” said head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “It’s probably one of the best that we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

The first night was more of a feeling-out process, Bortignon stated, with the second night seeing the pace and intensity pick up. He said the entire hockey staff was looking at who was the most consistent over the two nights.

There were about nine or ten hockey centres from across Essex County and Windsor represented at the spring mini-camp, said Bortignon.

“It’s nice to see this much interest in the program,” he said.

Players from around Windsor-Essex County converged on the Libro Centre May 9 and May 11 for the Admirals’ spring mini-camp. The team was evaluating potential new players that can join the local Jr. C hockey club for the 2017-18 PJHL Stobbs Division season.

Players from around Windsor-Essex County converged on the Libro Centre May 9 and May 11 for the Admirals’ spring mini-camp. The team was evaluating potential new players that can join the local Jr. C hockey club for the 2017-18 PJHL Stobbs Division season.

While Jr. C clubs are only allowed to take one 2001-born player, there were as many as 40 at the camp for the Admirals’ staff to choose from.

There could be as many as seven or eight open spots in the Admirals’ lineup this season, including forwards, defenseman and goalies. There were four overage players that graduated out of junior hockey at the end of last season with other spots becoming open for varying reasons. Bortignon said they are looking to get quicker up front as well as on the back end.

Despite changes in the offseason that saw Bortignon become the general manager after co-owner Wes Ewer relinquished that position, Bortignon said the staff shares the same collective vision.

“I got the title as GM but the decisions are made as a group,” he said.

Summer skates will take place in a couple of months with the 12-13 returning players plus 25 or so new players with that being trimmed to about 30-35 players for training camp in August, Bortignon stated.

The Admirals finished 26-14 with 52 points last season, which was good for a third place finish in the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) Stobbs Division. They were eliminated in the playoff semi-finals by the eventual division champion Essex 73’s.

Admirals make changes to management structure

 

 

There have been changes to the management structure of the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals, but the same faces are still involved with running the Jr. C franchise.

The Admirals announced Wednesday that “in an effort to get the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals back to their winning ways in the 2017/18 season” that co-owner Wes Ewer has stepped down as the general manager. His replacement will be Paul Bortignon, who will remain as the team’s head coach.

“I think it is an important shift of roles for our organization,” said Ewer, in the announcement made on the team’s website. “This will allow me to focus more on the business side of the Admirals and give Paul more autonomy as far as the players go.” The move comes after the Admirals were swept by the Essex 73’s in the PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final series. Essex went on to sweep Lakeshore in the Stobbs Division final.

Admirals head coach Paul Bortignon talks with his team during a timeout in the recent PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final series in Essex. Bortignon is now the  general manager as well after the team restructured its management last week.

Admirals head coach Paul Bortignon talks with his team during a timeout in the recent PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final series in Essex. Bortignon is now the
general manager as well after the team restructured its management last week.

“If you are not looking at all aspects of operation to improve – including your own role – then you are doing a disservice to the players, coaches and fans,” Ewer said.  “This is a pivotal year for the team.  I believe we underachieved last season and I think a fresh approach to managing the players will spark the improvement we are looking for this season.”

The Admirals went 26-14-0 during the 40-game 2016-17 regular season, good for a third place finish for the second year in a row.  Asked what he thinks will be different in the 2017-18 season, Bortignon had this to say.

“I believe the biggest difference will be the style and structure that we bring to the rink.  We have been a run-and- gun team for three years and although we have achieved some success, we have not got to the mountaintop yet.”

Speed and defense will be focused on going forward, the coach/GM stated.

“We will be a team that gets faster and a team that gets better defensive efforts at both the forward and defense positions. We will fill the team with guys who fit these tactics,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals are evaluating all aspects of the team and expect some more moves to be made from a personnel and management perspective, the team further announced.

“We aren’t done yet,” added Bortignon.

The team is well into the off-season now and the planning has already begun.  The date and time for the spring mini-camp has yet to be announced but any players interested in trying out for the team are welcome to fill out a recruitment form on the team’s website – www.amherstburgadmirals.com – and send directly to Bortignon.

The team expects some additional announcements in the coming weeks.

Amherstburg eliminated from PJHL Stobbs Division playoffs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The season is over for the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals.

The local Jr. C hockey team lost in four straight games to the Essex 73’s in the PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final, with the fourth game being a 7-2 loss at the Libro Centre Sunday night.

The 73’s’ first five goals were all off of special teams, four powerplay goals and one shorthanded goal, before pulling away in the third with two even-strength goals.

The teams swapped powerplay goals in the first period with Eric Shaw scoring for Essex followed later in the period by Curtis Prymack for the Admirals, the latter being on a five-on-three powerplay.

Anthony Cristofaro scored on the powerplay in the second while William Stadder scored on a shorthanded breakaway to make it 3-1 Essex after 40 minutes but Amherstburg climbed back into it just 59 seconds into the third period on a Jordan Luciw goal.

Michael Vieira and Cristofaro scored powerplay goals to give Essex a 5-2 lead before Michael Ruttinger and Stadder scored two more goals for the 73’s to round out the scoring.

“Not the storybook ending we wanted,” admitted Admirals coach Paul Bortignon after the game.

The Admirals coaches and management looked at the season positively despite the disappointing loss in the semi-final.

“In a season with highs and lows, as a staff we are proud of the effort our guys brought forth,” said Bortignon.

Bortignon said they were within one goal in the third period Sunday night but things started to come apart after the fourth Essex goals. He said the Admirals still battled hard until the end, despite the final score.

The Admirals have accomplished a lot the last few years, he added, including back-to-back trips to the finals with Kasey Basile, Luke Gangnon, Luciw and Prymack being part of that. All four players have played their last Jr. C game as they were the overage players this season.

Ryan Alexander gets a scoring chance on Essex goalie Tyler Ryan during Feb. 26 action at the Libro Centre. The Admirals kept it close for just over two periods but Essex pulled away midway through the third period to win Game 4 7-2 and the series four games to none.

Ryan Alexander gets a scoring chance on Essex goalie Tyler Ryan during Feb. 26 action at the Libro Centre. The Admirals kept it close for just over two periods but Essex pulled away midway through the third period to win Game 4 7-2 and the series four games to none.

“We are obviously disappointed and not satisfied but we are proud of what we accomplished this year and proud of the players for sure,” said Bortignon.

The staff will take some time to regroup and look to “reload” for the 2017-18 hockey season. They will look for impact players in the off-season and fill the voids from the players that won’t return from this season.

The team thanks the fans and the town for its support this past season and vow to get back to the finals and beyond as soon as possible.

“They have our commitment. We’ll work harder than ever to get back to where we are used to,” said general manager/co-owner Wes Ewer.

Essex outshot Amherstburg 29-20 in Game 4.

The 73’s built a three games to none advantage in the best-of-seven series thanks to a 7-5 win Feb. 21 at the Essex Centre Sports Complex.

The series’ third game went back-and-forth with Amherstburg having the lead on a couple of occasions, including taking a 5-4 lead into the second intermission. Essex scored three times in the third period to propel themselves to the win.

The game started on the right note for the Admirals thanks to Ryan Holzel scoring at the 8:59 mark of the period but Michael Ruttinger tied it for Essex less than a minute later.

The Admirals got the lead back just 11 seconds after Ruttinger’s goal thanks to a tally from Cory Burns but Essex would score twice more before the period was out with Matthew Rosati and Michael Vieiera scoring for the 73’s.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate Curtis Prymack's first period powerplay goal Sunday night. The Admirals lost 7-2 in Sunday's Game 4 and the series in four straight games.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate Curtis Prymack’s first period powerplay goal Sunday night. The Admirals lost 7-2 in Sunday’s Game 4 and the series in four straight games.

Amherstburg controlled the second period, outscoring the 73’s 3-1 in the period. Luke Gangnon scored at 2:22 and 19:22 with Jordan Luciw scoring in between for the Admirals. Dalton Langlois had the Essex goal in the period.

The 73’s got a pair of powerplay goals early in the third period to re-take the lead with Eric Shaw and Adam Gaiarin scoring. William Stadder scored the 73’s’ seventh goal with just 3:11 left in the game to give Essex and insurance marker.

Both starting goalies were pulled in the high-scoring game with Jax Dhont relieving starter Tyler Ryan in the Essex net in the first period while Matt Badour took over from Catalin Morin in the Amherstburg net in the second period.

The Admirals outshot the 73’s 38-34 in Game 3 but Essex was 3-for-9 on the powerplay as opposed to the Admirals going 0-for-4. There were nine slashing penalties on the night between the two teams.

Essex now awaits the winner of the Lakeshore-Blenheim series.

Admirals lose close games versus Essex to open semi-final series

By Ron Giofu

 

A familiar rivalry has been renewed in the PJHL Stobbs Division playoffs with Amherstburg’s Jr. C team looking to reverse the momentum after the series’ first two games.

The Admirals lost the first two games of the best-of-seven semi-final series with the Essex 73’s and are looking to climb back into the series. Game 3 of the series was Tuesday night after this issue of the River Town Times went to press. Follow www.rivertowntimes.com for results of that game.

 

Amherstburg’s Cory Burns (18) brings the puck into the Essex zone during Game 1 action last Friday night. Burns had a goal in each of the first two games of the best-of-seven series.

Amherstburg’s Cory Burns (18) brings the puck into the Essex zone during Game 1 action last Friday night. Burns had a goal in each of the first two games of the best-of-seven series.

GAME 1

The series started with a back-and-forth game at the Essex Centre Sports Complex Friday night, won by the host 73’s 4-3 in overtime.

Luke Gecse scored the first and last goals of the game, the latter being the game-winning goal for Essex 11:51 into overtime.

No team had more than a one-goal lead with the Admirals having leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in the second and third periods.

After Gecse scored 6:40 into the game, Mark Gangnon tied it for Amherstburg at the 15:42 mark of the first period.

Amherstburg took the lead with a powerplay goal at the 16:16 mark of the second when Curtis Prymack blasted home a shot from the blue line but Essex tied the game at two with under a minute left in the middle frame thanks to a powerplay goal from Tyler Scott.

Cory Burns put the Admirals back in front with a goal 10:38 into the third period but an Adam Gaiarin shot bounced off some legs in front of the net and eluded Admirals’ goalie Catalin Morin with just 3:04 left in regulation time and sent the game into the extra period.

Despite the loss, Admirals coach Paul Bortignon was satisfied with how his team played.

“I think we were with them shot for shot,” said Bortignon.

Bortignon said the Admirals had their chances in overtime but it wasn’t meant to be in Game 1.

“It’s only one game,” he said. “We’ve just got to bounce back and be ready to go (for Game 2). I think when we look at the game, we’ve got to be happy with how we played.”

Bortignon said they were missing two regulars up front and also said Morin played well in what was his biggest Jr. C game to-date.

 

GAME 2

The 73’s built a 2-0 lead after one period and managed to hang on to knock off the Admirals 3-2 Sunday night at the Libro Centre.

Anthony Cristofaro and Eric Shaw gave Essex the lead in the first period but Amherstburg rallied in the second period, outscoring the 73’s 2-1 in the middle frame. Cory Burns made it a 2-1 game with Sylvano Valente’s goal giving Essex a 3-1 lead.

Amherstburg’s Jordan Luciw (9, right) pulls away from Essex defenseman Adam Gaiarin (4) during the first period of Game 2 Sunday night at the Libro Centre. Essex won that game 3-2.

Amherstburg’s Jordan Luciw (9, right) pulls away from Essex defenseman Adam Gaiarin (4) during the first period of Game 2 Sunday night at the Libro Centre. Essex won that game 3-2.

Luke Gangnon scored with just over five seconds left in the second period to cut the Admirals’ deficit to 3-2 but Amherstburg couldn’t get the equalizer in the third period.

Essex outshot Amherstburg 25-22.

Bortignon said they believed coming into the series every game would be one-goal.

“I think we did a good job against them defensively,” said Bortignon, noting they limited the 73’s to under 30 shots.”

The Admirals played well but there is room for improvement. The 73’s got their point shots through, which included their first and third goals, while the Admirals’ shots from the point were blocked.

“(Essex) executed a bit better,” said Bortignon.

Special teams also played a role, with the 73’s getting the lone powerplay goal on the night, scored by Cristofaro.

Bortignon said the Admirals are still confident and that they still believe they are capable of winning. Being down 2-0 after Sunday’s game was some “uncharted waters,” he said, noting the last two semi-final series over the previous two years saw the series be tied 1-1.

“At the end of the day, it is what it is,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals thanked the fans for a strong turnout and those seeking Game 4 tickets this Sunday can reserve them at info@amherstburgadmirals.com.

Admirals need six games to eliminate Wheatley

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals and the Wheatley Sharks battled in Game 6 of their PJHL Stobbs Division quarterfinal Monday night with the Admirals finally putting the fourth nail in the coffin of the Sharks’ playoff hopes.

It took the Admirals three times to get their fourth victory of the series but they did get that decisive win Monday night in Wheatley. The Admirals won 4-2.

Amherstburg got a first period powerplay goal from Curtis Prymack, only to have Alixe Saliba tie it with a powerplay goal of his own before the period was out. The two teams again traded goals in the second, with Caleb Paquette scoring for Amherstburg and Mitchell Prudence for the Sharks.
Goals from Ryan Holzel and Cory Burns put the game away for the Admirals in the third period and gave Amherstburg the series victory four games to two.

The Admirals will play the Essex 73’s for the third straight year in the playoffs, this time in the PJHL Stobbs Division semi-finals. Essex has defeated Amherstburg in the last two league finals. No schedule or times were known at press time. Watch www.rivertowntimes.com for details.

The Admirals had the opportunity to finish the series twice on home ice but lost Game 4 Thursday night 5-3 and Game 5 9-5 Sunday night.

The Sharks put the Admirals in a whole early in Sunday night’s game, as they led 7-1 after the first period with five of those seven goals being on the powerplay. Three of the five powerplay goals came on a major penalty to Jordan Luciw, who was also ejected for a head contact penalty that knocked Wheatley goalie Eric Morneau from the game.

Mark Gangnon scores on Wheatley goalie Daniel Tonietto during the first period of Sunday night’s game at the Libro Centre. It was the lone highlight of the period for Amherstburg, as Wheatley led 7-1 after the first 20 minutes of the 9-5 Sharks win in Game 5. Amherstburg won the series in Game 6.

Mark Gangnon scores on Wheatley goalie Daniel Tonietto during the first period of Sunday night’s game at the Libro Centre. It was the lone highlight of the period for Amherstburg, as Wheatley led 7-1 after the first 20 minutes of the 9-5 Sharks win in Game 5. Amherstburg won the series in Game 6.

Cole Butler had a hat trick for the Sharks on the night with Delaney MacDonald and Saliba adding two goals each. Kyle Gagnon and Jake Pickersgill also scored for Wheatley.

Ryan Alexander had a hat trick for the Admirals with Mark Gangnon and Luke Gangnon also scoring for Amherstburg. Both Gangnons were also given game misconducts during Sunday night’s game.

“The first period was as bad as you could write it up,” said Admirals coach Paul Bortignon after Sunday’s loss. “We didn’t do a good job stopping the bleeding.”

Bortignon credited his players for battling back, as the Admirals ended up outshooting Wheatley 50-33 on the night even though they were outshot 21-7 in the first period.

“It’s disappointing,” he noted, though added they knew they had “wiggle room” after going up in the series three games to none earlier in the week.

“You can’t dwell on it,” he added. “We’ve got to be ready to go (Monday night).”

Bortignon acknowledged the loss of key players for Monday night’s game due to the penalty trouble but said other players got back into the lineup and had a chance to prove themselves.

After Cory Burns gave the Admirals a lead just under seven minutes into the first period in Game 4, powerplay goals from Butler and Saliba gave the Sharks a 2-1 advantage. The opening period ended in a 2-2 tie thanks to Travis Campbell’s goal with about 19 seconds to play.

Wheatley goalie Daniel Tonietto stops Amherstburg's Travis Campbell on a wraparound attempt in the second period of Game 4. Amherstburg lost Games 4 and 5 on home ice before finishing the series in Game 6 Feb. 13.

Wheatley goalie Daniel Tonietto stops Amherstburg’s Travis Campbell on a wraparound attempt in the second period of Game 4. Amherstburg lost Games 4 and 5 on home ice before finishing the series in Game 6 Feb. 13.

Wheatley’s third powerplay goal of the night was the lone goal of the second period, with that coming on a 5-on-3 thanks to Kyle Gagnon’s tip-in.

MacDonald made it 4-2 4:23 into the third period but Amherstburg cut it to a 4-3 deficit thanks to Mark Gangnon’s wrist shot at the 14:48 mark. MacDonald scored his second of the game into an empty net to round out the scoring.

While the Admirals couldn’t outscore the Sharks in Game 4, they had a clear shot advantage as they fired 53 shots at Morneau. The Sharks fired 26 shots in Catalin Morin’s direction that game.

Amherstburg had built a three games to none lead the previous night thanks to a 4-1 lead in Wheatley. Mark Gangnon and MacDonald exchanged powerplay goals in the first period but Amherstburg did all the scoring after that. Luke Gangnon and Zack Yott scored goals in the second period to put the Admirals up 3-1 with Jordan Luciw scoring on the powerplay in the third period.

Amherstburg outshot Wheatley 26-24 in Game 3 with Matt Badour making 23 saves in the Admirals’ net.