Paul Bortignon

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.”

Admirals conclude regular season with 11-0 rout of Wallaceburg

By Jonathan Martin

Four Amherstburg Admirals have played their last regular season home game.

Dylan Muzzatti, Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander and Dean Patterson are aging out of the league, which means their final playoff season is just over the horizon.

“We’ve all been in the league for quite some time now,” said Muzzatti, who is also the team’s captain. “It’s a pretty sad day for us. We’ll miss the Sunday nights here in Amherstburg, for sure.”

Dylan Muzzatti and Dean Patterson were joined by members of their families for their final regular season home game with the Admirals.

The day wasn’t all bad news for the Admirals, though. Goalie Jared Ratko earned his first career shutout with an 11-0 win over the Wallaceburg Lakers. The game was also head coach and general manager Paul Bortignon’s hundredth career win and saw Caleb Paquette score his hundredth point among the five points he scored on the night. Cory Burns carried the night with five points.

Zack Yott and Alexander each scored twice for the Admirals. Other goals were scored by Carter Comeau, Paquette, Burns, Travis Campbell, Holzel, Austin Jennings and Reid Stieler.

“We wanted the two points to lock up home-ice advantage in the first round,” said Bortignon. “I thought our guys responded well in the first and that just sort of carried over in the second and third.”

Muzzatti said a big part of the team’s synergy came from the knowledge that it was the last time they would play together on home ice.

Ryan Alexander and Ryan Holzel were joined by members of their families for their final regular season home game with the Admirals.

“We were all pretty emotional and I think we all just wanted to put everything into it one last time,” he said. “Now, everything resets. We have to take it game-by-game, day-by-day and understand that from now on (the other teams) are going to be more prepared … both mentally and physically.”

Muzzatti said he believes the Admirals have the players to overcome that obstacle. Bortignon said winning the playoffs, a first for the Admirals, would be sports poetry.

“To go out as champions would be ideal,” he said. “It’s emotional for us. These four guys have … been with us since day one (except for Muzzatti, who joined in year two). If we could go out winning the championship, that would be pretty sweet for them.”

The playoff schedule has not yet been posted.

Admirals win two of their last three games

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Admirals had a busy week with three games and won two of them.

The Admirals (24-11-2-2, 52 points) were in Wheatley Monday night and captured a convincing 6-1 win over the Sharks. Caleb Paquette scored a hat trick for the Admirals. Broden Meloche, Travis Campbell and Cory Burns added the other Amherstburg goals. Ben Larder picked up the win in goal.

Amherstburg’s Travis Campbell fights through a pair of Lakeshore players en route to getting a scoring chance on Canadiens’ goalie Erik Morneau Sunday.

The Admirals lone home game of the week was Sunday night but they fell short against the Lakeshore Canadiens, losing 3-1. Connor Rosaasen scored just 1:20 into the game for the Canadiens with Matt Smith giving Lakeshore a 2-0 lead after two.

Cory Burns cut the Admirals’ deficit to 2-1 at the 1:35 mark of the third period but despite a better effort in the third period, Amherstburg could get no closer. Steven Sartor scored an empty net goal for Lakeshore with just over four seconds left.

Despite taking the loss in net, Admirals goalie Ben Larder had a strong night as he made several key saves to keep his team in the game.

There were no penalties in Sunday night’s game.

“We showed up for 20 minutes,” said Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “If wasn’t for Ben Larder, it probably would have been five or six to nothing after two periods.”

Bortignon said the rest of the Admirals players didn’t do enough to support their goalie Sunday night.

“Tonight, he was the best player on the ice by far. We’re not going to beat the best team in the league playing like that.”

The Admirals were “flat” in the first two periods Sunday night and Bortignon said they are 0-3 in their last three games combined against Essex and Lakeshore.

Amherstburg’s Ryan Alexander (16, right) drives around Lakeshore’s Colin Sartor during the first period of Sunday night’s PJHL Stobbs Division game at the Libro Centre. Lakeshore won the game 3-1.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow but we are still focused on getting the last four points,” he said Sunday night.

The Admirals were in Wallaceburg last Wednesday to battle the last place Lakers and came away with a convincing 8-2 win. Travis Campbell and Bryce McGregor each scored two goals. Ryan Holzel, Cole Welsh, Dylan Muzzatti and Broden Meloche also scored for Amherstburg. For Welsh, it was his first with the Admirals.

“We came out with energy,” Bortignon said of last Wednesday night’s contest.

Amherstburg did good things offensively and played well defensively also, as they played a “clean” game with not a lot of turnovers.

The Admirals conclude the regular season this Sunday night at home against Wallaceburg. It will be the final regular season home game for overage players Muzzatti, Dean Patterson, Holzel and Ryan Alexander.

 

Admirals pick up wins over Mooretown and Petrolia

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg’s Jr. C hockey team picked up all four points that were up for grabs on the weekend, but their coach/GM still sees room for improvement.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals travelled to Mooretown Saturday night and came away with a 4-3 win but had to have late game heroics by Ryan Holzel in which to do it. After Cory Burns, Josh Talerico and Caleb Paquette scored in the first period to give the Admirals a 3-0 lead, they held it until the third period when Mooretown took advantage of Amherstburg penalty trouble and managed to tie the game.

Amherstburg defenseman Reid Stieler (7, left) battles for the puck with Petrolia’s Trent Jardine Sunday night.

However, Holzel scored with just 3:25 left in regulation time to give Amherstburg the win. Ben Larder stood tall in the Admirals’ net, stopping 46 of 49 shots.

The Admirals returned home Sunday night and hammered the visiting Petrolia Flyers 9-3. Dean Patterson and Paquette each scored twice with Bryce McGregor, Michael Hatch, Broden Meloche, Ryan Alexander and Holzel also scoring for Amherstburg.

Goalie Jared Ratko picked up his first win as an Admiral.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon said the coaches want to see a better effort over 60 minutes every night.

“Obviously at this point, we’re fighting for every point,” he said. “It’s good to get the four points.”

Bortignon said the third period in Mooretown wasn’t as good as it should have been but “we fought back to get the win.” Even in the 9-3 win Sunday night, they didn’t play as well in the third period.

“We strung together 40 minutes in some games,” he said.

The Admirals have to do a better job locking down defensively and putting games away, he believed.

Amherstburg continued to make roster moves before the deadline, one of the more recent being the addition of Keegan MacVoy. Bortignon said MacVoy has got Jr. B experience and he helps bolster their blue line even further.

“For us, it was a no brainer to add him to our defense corps,” said Bortignon.

MacVoy said the Admirals were hungry to win these last two games after having lost the previous weekend to Lakeshore and Essex. He said he was happy to join the Admirals.

“I’ve been excited especially for this game,” he said after Sunday’s win over Petrolia in which he had one assist. “I’m excited to play in front of my hometown.”

Amherstburg’s Kyle Meloche (12, left) gets a scoring chance Jan. 14 against Petrolia. Amherstburg won the game 9-3.

MacVoy said they are gearing up to make a run at the PJHL Stobbs Division championship.

“I believe this team can win it all,” he said.

The Admirals (22-10-2-2, 48 points) have to increase their work ethic, MacVoy added, and stay out of the penalty box. He said there is a lot of skill on the Admirals but they have to avoid taking penalties.

The Admirals are in Wallaceburg Wednesday night before returning home to battle Lakeshore Sunday night. They travel to Wheatley to battle the Sharks next Monday night.

Admirals drop two straight over the weekend

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals’ winning streak came to a stop on the weekend thanks to a pair of defeats to local rivals.

The Admirals (20-10-2-2, 44 points) had won seven straight heading into Friday night’s game in Lakeshore but lost a 6-4 decision to the Canadiens. Lakeshore jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on goals by Kyle Brothers, Jarrett Tazzman and Matt Smith before Travis Campbell and Caleb Paquette got the Admirals on the scoreboard before the first period was out.

Caleb Paquette (6, white jersey) drives to the net during third period action Jan. 5 at the Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore. Lakeshore defeated Amherstburg 6-4.

In the second period, Kyler Carter expanded Lakeshore’s lead to 4-2 but Cory Burns’ powerplay goal brought the Admirals back to within a goal. Steven Sartor’s powerplay goal of his own gave Lakeshore a 5-3 lead but a third period goal by Austin Jennings of the Admirals made it a 5-4 game.

Tazzman’s empty net goal rounded out the scoring.

“We let our guard down a couple of times and that was it,” said Admirals GM/head coach Paul Bortignon. “You can’t do that against good teams.”
Bortignon believed the Admirals “showed a lot of character in the third” but it just wasn’t their night.

“Some nights you are going to get the calls and we didn’t get the calls,” he added.

There was a flu bug that hit the Admirals Friday night, Bortignon added, but he was proud of the way they competed that night. Two nights later, though, the Admirals had a game that Bortignon called “a wake-up call” as they were thumped 5-0 by the Essex 73’s at the Libro Centre.

“I just think we had no jump,” Bortignon said after Sunday night’s game. “Flat out, we didn’t have it tonight. We were chasing the puck all night. We were chasing them all night.”

The Admirals weren’t prepared to play while the 73’s were, he believed.

Admirals forward Travis Campbell (19) knocks Essex’s Luke Gecse to the ice during the first period of their Jan. 7 game at the Libro Centre. Campbell was assessed a penalty on the play. Essex won the game 5-0.

“We were beaten by the better team tonight,” he said. “They took advantage of all of our mistakes. The score was indicative of that. They dominated for two periods and coasted in the third.”

Riley Meyerink and Anthony Cristofaro had first period goals for the 73’s while William Stadder, Quinn Fazekas and Luke Gecse had third period goals for Essex.

Bortignon said the players have to put Sunday’s game behind them quickly while the staff has to watch the game again and point out their mistakes and correct them in this week’s practices.

Jared Ratko, the team’s new backup goalie, came on in relief in both games and Bortignon said his efforts were a bright spot on the weekend. Newcomer Dylan Kolic also debuted Sunday night against Essex after being signed recently.

“We’re excited to have them for the stretch run,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals – who are battling Essex, Lakeshore, Dresden and Mooretown in a tight battle for the top spots in the PJHL Stobbs Division – don’t play again until Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they play the Flags in Mooretown. Their next home game is Sunday at 7 p.m. when the Petrolia Flyers come to the Libro Centre.