PJHL Stobbs Division

Admirals boasting abundance of local talent on this year’s team

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

When the Amherstburg Integrity Admirals hit the ice this season, they will be doing so with a lot of locally trained hockey players.

The bulk of the Admirals’ 23-player roster is made of locally developed talent with the local content also included in the team’s ownership and management.

“I’m pumped for the outlook of our team this season, probably more than I’ve been in the four years I’ve been here,” said co-owner Wes Ewer. “I’m pumped about the amount of Amherstburg talent we have in all aspects of the organization.”

Ewer pointed out that 13 of the 23 players are from Amherstburg, three coaches are from Amherstburg and three of the four support and training staff are from Amherstburg. The ownership group of the Admirals also features two local people – Ewer and Matt Fox. Fox is also an assistant coach.

Local players include Kyle Meloche, Zack Yott, Cory Burns, Austin Jennings, Ryan Holzel, Cole Welsh, Luc Warnock, Jack Hubbell, Bryce McGregor, Catalin Morin, Mike Lenson, Brock Beaudoin and Reid Stieler.

“I would challenge anyone to find me a team in the PJHL that has as many people from its town involved in all areas and be a strong team,” said Ewer. “We are very, very proud we have local talent spread out in all areas of the organization. We are going to put a lot of familiar faces on the ice.”

The Amherstburg Integrity Admirals will hit the ice for the 2017-18 PJHL Stobbs Division season with a healthy dose of local talent among their ranks. The Amherstburg executives, coaches and players include (back row, from left): From Left to right (Standing)- Wes Ewer (owner), Zack Yott (#17), Cory Burns (#9), Austin Jennings (#10), Ryan Holzel (#14), Cole Welsh (#4), Luc Warnock (#27), Jack Hubbell (#2), Bryce McGregor (#18), Rob Bondy (assistant coach), Paul Bortignon (general manager/head coach). Front row (from left): Matt Fox (owner/assistant coach), Catalin Morin (#33), Mike Lenson (#8), Brock Beaudoin (#11), Reid Stieler (#7). Not pictured: Kyle Meloche (#12), Grant Wood (room manager), Stu Bertram (assistant trainer), Bryan Hayes (prevention services), Scott Riddell (assistant trainer), B.J. Wiley (assistant trainer).

The Admirals praised the work of the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) for its role in developing the local talent.

“You can’t say enough about AMHA,” said Ewer. “They make it easy for us.”

The coaches are confident about the players they are utilizing, Ewer added, and that those players can be used in all situations.

“We know what (AMHA) is doing and they are doing it right,” he said.

Ewer pointed out Glen Holden and Dennis Emerson, coaches of the Amherstburg Stars midget major and juvenile teams respectively, deserve credit for developing players in their final years of minor hockey.

“We’re going to be in a good position because of the good coaching they are doing with their teams,” he said.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon said the level of hockey talent that is developed in Amherstburg is something the Jr. C club can’t turn away from. He said the number of Amherstburg players on the Admirals is due to their abilities rather than simply the team trying to accumulate as many local players as possible.

“I don’t think we’d take Amherstburg kids on the ice if it hindered our hopes for winning a championship,” said Bortignon.

Bortignon believed that winning a championship with so many local players and coaches could be “the first of its kind” in Jr. C.

Fox said AMHA has produced strong hockey players over the years and that trend is continuing. He said with the Admirals now in town, local players have been choosing to stay home to further their careers at the junior level.

“There are teams that are winning in this league that are doing it on the backs of Amherstburg kids,” said Fox.

Ewer added that although they are excited about the number of Amherstburg players in the lineup, they are equally excited about the other players from outside of town they have acquired as well. The Admirals open the regular season Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Libro Centre against the Petrolia Flyers.

Admirals gearing up for 2017-18 PJHL season

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There will be some familiar faces returning to the Amherstburg Integrity Admirals lineup this upcoming Jr. C season with some new faces also hoping to push the team over the top.

The Admirals played the Essex 73’s to a 1-1 tie Sunday night in the first pre-season games for both PJHL Stobbs Division clubs, with the Admirals having a weekend full of practices and scrimmages as the coaches and management take a closer look at who might be taking the ice for them when the regular season starts Sept. 17.

“Overall, I thought it was a good weekend,” said Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “There were a lot of young guys trying to make an impact. I thought the guys did a good job.”

Amherstburg’s Zack Yott (11) tries a wrap-around on Essex goalie Ryan Polidori Sunday night.

Amherstburg’s Zack Yott (11) tries a wrap-around on Essex goalie Ryan Polidori Sunday night.

Bortignon said there are about four or five spots up for grabs on this years team and envisions “good competition” over the next two weeks before the roster is shaved to the 23 player limit in time for the Sept. 17 season opener against Petrolia at the Libro Centre.

Goaltending could be a strength this year as the Admirals have landed Ben Larder – a three-year starter from Tavistock – to their crease to join incumbent Catalin Morin.

“Up front, we do return a lot of veteran players,” said Bortignon. “We’ve got a lot of good depth up front.”

Amherstburg acquired forward Kadin Ritchie from Dresden over the off-season with Ritchie scoring 11 goals and six assists last season for the Jr. Kings.

“We’re definitely excited to have him, that’s for sure,” said Bortignon.

Ritchie played with the Wallaceburg Lakers during the 2015-16 season.

“Our defensive core is going to be a bit younger,” Bortignon added.

The Admirals are looking forward to the 2017-18 season, Bortignon stated. Last season ended when they lost in four straight games to the 73’s in the PJHL Stobbs Division semi-finals and the Admirals are putting that behind them.

“As a group, we’re excited to get going,” said Bortignon.

Josh Talerico (15, left) carries the puck in the corner during second period action.

Josh Talerico (15, left) carries the puck in the corner during second period action.

Co-owner/assistant coach Matt Fox said the team’s annual golf tournament is Sept. 10 at Sutton Creek Golf Club and people looking to sign up or those who want more information invited to contact Mary Ewer at mary_ewer@hotmail.com.

Fox agreed they are looking forward to the start of the regular season.

“We’re looking forward to another big year,” he said.

The second pre-season game is at the Libro Centre tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. versus the Lakeshore Canadiens. There will also be a volunteer information session Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. prior to the game against Lakeshore. Co-owner Wes Ewer said they will go over roles the team is looking for and the benefits of helping us out. Season tickets will also be sold at the game from 6-7:30 p.m.

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.

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.