Wes Ewer

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.

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.”