Admirals open the season this Sunday with a lot of returning players

 

Luke Gecse battles in front of the Wheatley net during last Friday night’s exhibition game, won by Wheatley 2-0.

Luke Gecse battles in front of the Wheatley net during last Friday night’s exhibition game, won by Wheatley 2-0.

 Justin Melo break into the Wheatley zone during second period action at the Libro Centre.

Justin Melo break into the Wheatley zone during second period action at the Libro Centre.

Alex Popel handles the puck as he approaches the Wheatley zone.

Alex Popel handles the puck as he approaches the Wheatley zone.

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Admirals open the Great Lakes Jr. C season this Sunday night against the Lakeshore Canadiens with many familiar faces.

While there may be as many as seven to nine Amherstburg faces in the Admirals’ lineup to start the regular season, a lot of this year’s club will be the same as the team that the Canadiens eliminated in Game 7 of an opening round playoff series last spring.

“We’ll be top heavy with veterans because we’ve got a lot of returning veterans,” said head coach Paul Bortignon.

General manager Wes Ewer said the team “is coming together nicely” and that he hopes for a strong turnout at the home opener Sunday night. Ewer added their priority is to put the best team possible on the ice but noted they have strengthened ties with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association, an organization he believes is second to none. Bortignon pointed out AMHA produced both bantam and midget major champions from one year ago.

The Admirals dropped a 2-0 decision to Wheatley in exhibition action Friday night and had their final home exhibition game Sunday versus Essex. They will meet those same two teams in road exhibition games this week. Neither Bortignon or Ewer were concerned with the loss to Wheatley, noting the Admirals had a lot of young players in the lineup while the Sharks had much of their regular lineup on the ice.

Bortignon was pleased with the compete level against Wheatley and believed they pulled together well after allowing the first ten shots of the game. As for expectations this season, he said they are breaking it down into stages with the first goal being to get home ice in the playoffs. After that, they want to win a playoff series, something the Kingsville/Amherstburg franchise hasn’t done since 2003 when Ewer was a player on the team.

Sunday’s game against Lakeshore starts at 7 p.m. at the Libro Centre. The Admirals then play two games on the road against Essex (Sept. 9) and Wallaceburg (Sept. 10) before returning home for a four-game homestand.

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