Wes Ewer

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.

Stars juvenile team season ends with home ice loss in OMHA semi-finals

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

For a team that was struggling attracting players early in the season, the Amherstburg Stars juvenile hockey team managed to get to the OMHA semi-final.

The Stars lost 3-2 Monday night to the New Hamburg Huskies, a loss which ended their season. New Hamburg won the six-point series 7-5.

Ernie Godden gave the Stars a 1-0 lead in the first but the Huskies tied it before the period was out and took the lead early in the third period. Godden tied it with a shorthanded goal with just over five minutes left in the third period but New Hamburg scored the winning goal on the powerplay during the same penalty.

“I think, at the end of the day, we gave ourselves a chance to win,” said assistant coach Blaine Bechard. “It sucks we didn’t get the win.”

Bechard said the program excelled as the season went on, noting they had roughly ten players near the start of the season but picked up more players as the season went on.

“I think it was a pretty successful year,” he said.

Amherstburg’s Kyle Meloche (12) gets a scoring chance on New Hamburg goalie Eric Munro during action in the sixth game of the OMHA semi-final series Monday night in Amherstburg. New Hamburg won the game 3-2 to win the six-point series seven points to five.

Amherstburg’s Kyle Meloche (12) gets a scoring chance on New Hamburg goalie Eric Munro during action in the sixth game of the OMHA semi-final series Monday night in Amherstburg. New Hamburg won the game 3-2 to win the six-point series seven points to five.

The Stars thought they had a chance after the shorthanded goal but the powerplay goal by the Huskies proved to be the difference, he added.

The Stars juvenile team picked up three of a possible four points on the weekend at the Libro Centre before heading to New Hamburg Sunday afternoon where they lost 7-0. That loss was partially due to unusual circumstances, however.

Assistant coach Wes Ewer said it was “one of the most fun losses I have ever been a part of. Due to an engineering mid-term and a case of mono we did not have an eligible goalie for (Sunday) so we had one of our veteran players step up and volunteer to play net.”

Despite the fact he is not their regular goalie, Ewer said Erik Vandenham “made some huge saves in the game.”

Ewer added: “The way our team handled the situation is nothing short of outstanding. They were able to keep everything in perspective,  and made the best of day together.”

In the series’ third game Friday night, the Stars settled for a 4-4 tie with New Hamburg and beat the Huskies 2-0 Saturday afternoon behind a shutout from Jack Langlois and goals from Zac Garvey and Ernie Godden.

“They’ve been playing really hard,” said Stars head coach Dennis Emerson after Saturday afternoon’s game.

Amherstburg's Jared Benninger (right) checks Mitch Schurink during March 4 action at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg.

Amherstburg’s Jared Benninger (right) checks Mitch Schurink during March 4 action at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg.

Emerson said they played well Friday night and had a 4-1 lead at one point but let New Hamburg back in the game. Garret Blunt scored twice in that game for Amherstburg with Jack Hubbell and Colton McGregor adding the others.

“The boys have been battling hard,” he said.

Injured players are regaining their health and coming back into the lineup, he added. They have been working hard and playing well defensively during the season and Emerson wanted a rested bunch for Sunday’s game in New Hamburg.

“The guys have bought into our system,” Emerson said of this season’s success.

Charity hockey game raises $1,100 for Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A charity hockey game held over the Christmas holidays resulted in a recent donation of $1,100 to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

The game was organized by Wes Ewer and a group of his friends. Ewer, co-owner and general manager of the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals, organized the game after the Dec. 30 Admirals’ home game but noted the tradition started a number of years ago.

“Basically the game itself started five years ago,” said Ewer. “As my group of friends starting getting older and some of our group had departed Amherstburg for work and family responsibilities elsewhere, I looked for an opportunity to get everyone together; and could think of no more fitting way than a hockey game.”

That led to a group of 32 friends renting the ice at the Libro Centre for 90 minutes, drafting teams, playing a game and have some social time after.

“Going into this year, I wanted to switch things up a bit,” said Ewer. “Normally we design and purchase jerseys each year for all the players. This year, (Admirals co-owner) Matt (Fox) and I decided to just use the practice jerseys we have accumulated with the Admirals to save some time and money. Instead of dropping the cost per player for the game, we kept our normal price and told the players we would donate the money somewhere to a local cause or family that could use it. The reception on my idea was a unanimous yes from the group of players.”

A charity hockey game at the Libro Centre in December raised $1,100 for the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission. (Submitted photo)

A charity hockey game at the Libro Centre in December raised $1,100 for the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission. (Submitted photo)

Some suggested upping our fee for the game to increase the donation, Ewer added.

“After discussion with many of the players, we decided to donate to the Amherstburg Mission. Our original donation was going to be $300 which we thought would certainly help and we’re proud of. One of our players (Mark Bondy) has close ties with the McAllister family and once he found out the recipient I had decided to go with, he personally matched our donation,” said Ewer. “After that, Mark got his employer on board and Morton Industrial -with no hesitation whatsoever – added $500 to our cause. So for our first go round at donating some money, we were able to get $1,100 to a great local cause.”

Ewer said they all were happy to support the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

“I can speak for all of the players in the game that it felt great to be able to positively impact a cause that helps so many local people out,” said Ewer. “Ninety-five per cent of the players in the game were born in Amherstburg or still currently live here so it made our Christmas and our annual game a lot more special.”

Tim McAllister, president of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission’s board of directors, thanked “a solid group of guys” for making the donation.

“Not only did they donate money, they donated their time to organize this annual hockey game,” said McAllister. “With the combined effort with Morton’s, $1,100 was donated. This money donated will go towards our mission of people helping people.”

Admirals score come-from-behind win in Essex

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a euphoric group of Admirals that left the ice last Tuesday night in Essex.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals picked up a 7-5 win over the defending league champion Essex 73’s. The Admirals trailed 3-1 after two periods but scored six goals in the third period, including four in the final five-and-a-half minutes.

Eric Shaw opened the scoring with a powerplay goal roughly nine minutes into the game to give the 73’s a 1-0 lead but Cory Burns tied it for the Admirals about four minutes later. Michael Vieira restored the lead for Essex at the 18:35 mark to make it a 2-1 lead for the 73’s after one period.

Amherstburg goalie Catalin Morin makes a save during the third period of the Admirals' 7-5 win in Essex Nov. 1. Morin stopped 34 of 39 73's shots.

Amherstburg goalie Catalin Morin makes a save during the third period of the Admirals’ 7-5 win in Essex Nov. 1. Morin stopped 34 of 39 73’s shots.

Former Admiral Mitchell Holden, playing in his first game with the 73’s, scored the lone second period goal.

Luciw got the ball rolling for the Admirals just 38 second into the third but Shaw’s second of the game made it a 4-2 Essex lead. Austin Jennings scored the first of his two goals for the Admirals to cut it to a 4-3 game but Anthony Cristofaro scored on a powerplay at 12:07 to make it a 5-3 Essex advantage.

From there, it was all Amherstburg. Travis Campbell scored at the 14:32 mark to make it 5-4. The Admirals overtook the 73’s with two goals six seconds apart – Ryan Holzel scoring at the 18:34 mark and Jennings again at the 18:40 mark – and made it a 6-5 Amherstburg lead.

Holzel scored his second of the game into an empty net at the 19:25 mark to seal the win for the Admirals.

Amherstburg, from ownership on down, were thrilled after the game. Head coach Paul Bortignon said despite being in the finals for two straight years, they are a team still in search of respect within the league.

“You can’t say enough about these guys,” he said of his team. “That’s as proud as I’ve ever been. They showed a lot of character and guts tonight.”

Bortignon added that “we continued to get pucks on net and continued to move our feet” and said that helped with the comeback.

That was the last game with the current jerseys and Bortignon said they did previous ownership and current ownership proud. He said the Admirals get great support from the town, noting there were a lot of Amherstburg fans in the stands last Tuesday night at the Essex Centre Sports Complex.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate their 7-5 victory over the Essex 73's Nov. 1.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals celebrate their 7-5 victory over the Essex 73’s Nov. 1.

“That was an amazing effort and an amazing win,” he said after the game.

Bortignon said Essex is a tough place to play and to get seven goals and overcome the obstacles of playing on the road spoke well of the Admirals.

“Coming into a hostile environment, we did a great job holding our composure and getting the win,” said Bortignon.

General manager Wes Ewer said they came off a stretch of playing 12 games in 24 days and “beat the perennial league champions.” The Admirals were missing numerous forwards and had several affiliate players (AP’s) playing, including three that comprised an entire line.

“That’s a testament to Amherstburg Minor Hockey and the players they are producing,” said Ewer.

Admirals defenseman Dean Patterson (left) backhands the puck away from Essex's Tyler Boughner last Tuesday night in Essex.

Admirals defenseman Dean Patterson (left) backhands the puck away from Essex’s Tyler Boughner last Tuesday night in Essex.

The Admirals don’t play again until Nov. 12 and Bortignon said the layoff will give them time to work on some aspects of their game such as defensive zone coverage and special teams. It will also allow players to recuperate and get healthy after a busy stretch of games.

The Nov. 12 game will be at the Libro Centre against the Blenheim Blades with the Admirals wearing their new uniforms. That Saturday night game will start at 7:30 p.m. The Admirals will also play against the Dresden Jr. Kings at home Nov. 13 with that game being at 7 p.m.

Admirals hit the ice for first of five summer skates

 

By Ron Giofu

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals have already hit the ice to get ready for the 2016-17 Great Lakes Jr. C hockey season.

The Admirals have started their summer skates at the Libro Centre with returning players and new prospects not only trying to stay in shape, but trying to catch the eyes of the Admirals’ management and coaches.

“It’s nice to be back in the rink,” said Admirals general manager Wes Ewer.

The summer skates began July 26 and run every Tuesday night for five weeks. The players are divided into two teams with 14 forwards, eight defensemen and five goalies participating in the summer skates.

Jordan Luciw unleashes a shot during the summer skate held by the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals July 26. The skate was the first of five Tuesday night summer skates at the Libro Centre.

Jordan Luciw unleashes a shot during the summer skate held by the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals July 26. The skate was the first of five Tuesday night summer skates at the Libro Centre.

“We’ve got a lot of returning guys back,” said Ewer.

Ewer added there are roughly five to eight spots on the roster up for grabs with the Admirals having five new signees participating in the skates as well. Team officials told the returning players they still have to compete and show up ready to play as their opportunity could be given to someone else.

The Admirals are back-to-back Great Lakes Jr. C Hockey League finalists, but Ewer indicated they want to improve on that.

“We’ve got to get over the hump this year,” he said.

One of the spots where there may be an opening is in goal, as Connor Meyerink is not expected back this year. Meyerink, who helped lead the Admirals to the finals, is expected to move up to Jr. B this season though he is taking part in the Admirals’ summer skates. Ewer said they have confidence in Meyerink’s backup from a year ago, Daniel Tonietto, but are seeking someone to support him.

Zack Yott (left) lines up Duncan Dagley during the Admirals' first of five summer skates July 26.

Zack Yott (left) lines up Duncan Dagley during the Admirals’ first of five summer skates July 26.

“We have the utmost confidence in Daniel’s ability to be a starter in this league,” said Ewer.

The public is invited out to watch the summer skates. Ewer added there will be an opportunity for fans to purchase season tickets and to volunteer for the upcoming season.

“We definitely need to fill volunteer spots on game days,” he said.

People can visit the Libro Centre from 7-9 p.m. for season ticket or volunteer information. The Admirals open the 2016-17 season at home Sept. 18 versus the Mooretown Flags.