PJHL Stobbs Division

Admirals have three-game winning streak snapped by Wheatley



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals entered Sunday night’s game against the Wheatley Sharks on a three-game winning streak but could not extend it any further.

The Admirals lost 4-3 to the Sharks at the Libro Centre though head coach/GM Paul Bortignon believed his team played well. After Dylan Muzzatti gave the Admirals the lead in the first period, Carter Mastronardi’s tip-in tied it for Wheatley before the opening 20 minutes was complete.

Amherstburg forward Ryan Holzel goes head over heels after scoring a goal in Mooretown Saturday night. The Admirals won this game 4-2. (Photo by John Holzel)

Jake Pickersgill and Antonio Ciampa gave Wheatley a 3-1 lead in the third period but Ryan Alexander cut it to a 3-2 game with a goal for Amherstburg. Ryan Zsebok restored Wheatley’s two-goal lead but the Admirals kept fighting and Caleb Paquette scored with roughly 18 seconds left in the game to round out the scoring.

It was the third game in four nights for the Admirals, who defeated Blenheim and Mooretown on the road last Thursday and Saturday nights.

“In a week with three games, to come out with four out of six points is not bad,” said Bortignon.

Amherstburg’s Ryan Alexander (16) lunges for a puck in front of Wheatley goalie Daniel Tonietto during PJHL Stobbs Division action Sunday night at the Libro Centre. Wheatley won this game 4-3.

Bortignon said they may have been “a step behind” Sunday night but didn’t want to use the fact they played three games in a week as an excuse

“We battled right up until the final buzzer and we came up a shot short,” he said after Sunday night’s game. “I think we made the goalie look better than he was tonight.”

Wheatley goalie Daniel Tonietto, an Amherstburg native and former Admiral, made 32 saves on the night. Ben Larder made 23 saves in the Admirals’ net.

“Overall, our defense was good today. (Wheatley) got a couple of bounces in the high slot. I think we were the better team but we came up a shot short.”

The Admirals won 4-1 last Thursday in Blenheim last Thursday in a game that Bortignon said featured a solid 60-minute effort from his team. Travis Campbell returned from injury with a pair of goals while Cory Burns and Travis Campbell also scored. Larder made 27 saves in that game.

Saturday night’s game was in Mooretown and saw the Admirals record a 4-2 win thanks to goals from David Cooke, Paquette, Holzel and Muzzatti. Larder made 39 saves in that game.

“I think we controlled the game for the most part,” said assistant coach Matt Fox, who filled in for Bortignon Saturday night.

The Admirals had penalty trouble at points Saturday, Fox said, but once they escaped that in the third period, they took over and scored three goals.

“We got the result we wanted,” he said.

Caleb Paquette gets a scoring chance against Wheatley goalie Daniel Tonietto in the third period of Sunday night’s game at the Libro Centre.

The Admirals (6-6-2-1, 15 points) opened their dressing room after the game with local children trick-or-treating and getting candy from the players.

The local Jr. C hockey team’s lone game this week is Friday in Lakeshore at 7 p.m. They follow that up with games on three straight nights Nov. 10-12, with the Nov. 10 game being in Dresden. Their next home game is Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. versus Blenheim with Mooretown coming to Amherstburg the following night, also at 7 p.m.

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.