Wes Ewer

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 golf tournament features highest number of golfers yet

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Organizers of the annual Amherstburg Integrity Admirals golf tournament were pleased with the results.

While a final total is not available yet, organizer Mary Ewer and team co-owner Wes Ewer were happy with how things turned out Sunday at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

“We had such a great response from the community and the parents for our door prizes,” said Mary. “It was the best we’ve ever had. The community came together. It was unbelievable.”

Eighty golfers hit the links, with Mary adding “it’s the best we’ve had.” There were 26 additional people that joined them for dinner.

“These are families that couldn’t join us for golf but could for dinner,” she said.

T.J. McWhinnie (left) and Ted Jacob were two of the members of the winning team in the Admirals’ golf tournament Sunday at Sutton Creek Golf Club. Mike Souligny (not pictured) was the other member of the winning team.

With friends, friends of friends and members of the community joining the team and their families, Wes believes the early results will be positive.

“It will be one of the more profitable years, for sure,” he said.

Mary said a strong local contingent on the team helped, with Wes noting that all proceeds will go towards the general operation of doing business.

Head coach/general manager Paul Bortignon said they have got the roster down to the 23 player limit. He added the team is appreciative of all the support from the families and the community as a whole.

“We’re all looking forward to a great year,” said Bortignon. “We are extremely excited. Hopefully we can finally deliver the championship to Amherstburg that we’ve been desperately seeking the last five years.”

T.J. McWhinnie, Ted Jacob and Mike Souligny were the winning team. Susan Campbell was the closest to the pin for the women while Mary Ewer had the longest drive for the women. In those same two categories, Cory Burns and Souligny won the honours among the men.

Skins were won by Mary Ewer, Kieth Ewer, Brett Corey and Doug Middleton.

Amherstburg concluded the pre-season with a 2-1 win in Essex last Tuesday and a 5-4 overtime loss in Lakeshore last Friday night. The Admirals open the 2017-18 regular season at home Sunday night with a 7 p.m. game against the visiting Petrolia Flyers.

Admirals face off with Amherstburg police for Special Olympics

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals were back in action Sunday afternoon but the result of the game didn’t matter much.

The Admirals faced off with the Amherstburg Police Service in a friendly game for Ontario Special Olympics and while the Admirals won 6-4, the more important part of the day was the cause.

The Amherstburg Police Service team and the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals pose with the Memorial Cup between periods of last Sunday’s hockey game for Special Olympics Ontario.

The Amherstburg Police Service team and the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals pose with the Memorial Cup between periods of last Sunday’s hockey game for Special Olympics Ontario.

“Any time we have an opportunity to be involved with a local cause with great people like the police, it’s a no-brainer for us,” said Admirals co-owner Wes Ewer.

Ewer said it was great to be playing on the same day the Memorial Cup trophy was in Amherstburg with both teams being photographed with it after the first period.

“It’s fantastic,” added co-owner Matt Fox. “Special Olympics has a special tie to the Admirals family. It’s a great event.”
Fox added it was another occasion to draw people into town and show off the community.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo drops the puck between B.J. Wiley of the Amherstburg Police and Luke Gagnon of the Admirals.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo drops the puck between B.J. Wiley of the Amherstburg Police and Luke Gagnon of the Admirals.

Ewer and Fox both suited up for the police team with Ewer guaranteeing at least a two-goal win for that team. Unfortunately for him, the result went the other way.

The only down side to the game was a leg injury to Admirals’ defenseman Aaron Jacobs, who was hurt in the second period and had to be taken from the ice on a stretcher. He gave a thumbs-up as he left the ice.

Special Olympics game3

Admirals co-owners Wes Ewer and Matt Fox suited up for the Amherstburg police team Sunday afternoon, with Ewer (14) checking Admirals forward Dylan Muzzatti against the boards.

Sgt. Mike Cox, who has helped lead local fundraising efforts for Ontario Special Olympics for over two decades, said the game has been held for years with General Amherst High School and various travel teams as the opponents but the Admirals became the opponent when they came to town.

“We’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember in one form or another,” said Cox.

Cox estimated the game raised about $500 for Special Olympics Ontario.

Surcharge coming to Libro Centre users, but not in 2017

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A surcharge is coming for users of the Libro Centre but not for this year.

The surcharge, to be discussed during 2018 budget deliberations, was agreed to in concept Monday night though discussions are expected with the user groups, four of which were present during the meeting. Amherstburg Minor Hockey president Marc Renaud, Skate Amherstburg president Lynn Fox, Integrity Amherstburg Admirals owners Matt Fox and Wes Ewer and Rick Meloche, president of the over-40 men’s league, all presented to council and voiced concerns.

User groups pointed out that registration is already underway for the 2017-18 seasons and council assured them the surcharge would not impact them for this year thus meaning they don’t have to go back and adjust registration rates.

“This is for next year’s budget,” Councillor Jason Lavigne told the user groups.

In a report sent to council last November, Miceli stated “the facility has been operating on a budget that does not adequately provide for a level of service that citizens have become accustomed to and expect. Avoiding timely maintenance and inspections in an effort to stay on budget presents several risks such as loss of the facility LEED Certification, deferred and inflated ‘unbudgeted’ repair and maintenance costs, further deterioration of the facility and most importantly citizen safety.”

Libro Centre

That report called for “a full service delivery and cost analysis” to address operating costs of the Libro Centre.

Miceli’s April report recommended the hiring of a qualified refrigeration mechanic, which goes in line with recommendation put forth by Fieldcraft Engineering, the firm that reviewed the Libro Centre and its mechanical operations. That was agreed to by town council. It is expected to cost $83,000.

Fieldcraft recommended quarterly maintenance programs, building automation monitoring, training and standardization.

“The issue at hand is for council to decide if they are going to preserve the investment in Libro Facility asset and address user complaints through adopting a proactive approach to maintaining the Libro Centre as identified in (the recommendations in the) Fieldcraft report going forward, or is council going to decide to continue the existing practice and disregard user complaints,” the April report stated. “It is important for council to make this decision in the context of the November 15, 2016 report deferred by council on November 29, 2016.”

Miceli told council Monday night that they are “looking at trying to maintain a Class A facility” and feared it wouldn’t be around in ten years if it wasn’t properly maintained. He said the ratepayers are already subsidizing the facility to the tune of $1 million, or $113 per household.

The CAO said his first and foremost consideration regarding the Libro Centre is to protect the asset and said the town will work with user groups regarding the surcharge and said Amherstburg will be one of the first in the area to have such a charge.

The Admirals and Skate Amherstburg were concerned about the loss of summer ice, as ice will come out in June and July. While the town states that it will save $30,000 each month, those organizations feared damaging their programs with the Admirals noting the Libro Centre is a selling point to try and attract players to the team.

Renaud said that with about 540 children in minor hockey, a surcharge could mean big bucks. The town used the example of a $5 hourly surcharge raising $25,370 but Renaud said that could cost AMHA $15,000, or about $25 per child. Miceli emphasized no figure had been agreed upon but Renaud noted there could still be a cost to families.

Ewer said they understand money has to go back into the Libro Centre but was confident they could meet with administration, including Miceli, and resolve the ice time issue. He said they and Skate Amherstburg would like ice in the Movati pad put back in by July 20 with Pad A up and running about a month later.

 

 

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.