Admirals suffer heartbreaking season-ending loss


By Ron Giofu


The weekend proved to be a heartbreaking one for the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals.

The Admirals, who led the PJHL Stobbs Division quarterfinal three-games-to-one after a 4-0 win in Mooretown Feb. 14, couldn’t close out the series and that included a pair of weekend losses. The final one was a Game 7 loss on home ice Sunday night to the Flags.

Brett Farr’s goal 6:42 into the third period proved to be the game’s only goal.

Mooretown forced Game 7 with a 5-2 win in their rink Saturday night. Bryce McGregor and Broden Meloche had the Amherstburg goals in Game 6 but the bigger loss that night was Ryan Alexander, who suffered a broken leg in the game. Despite his injury and the fact that injury required surgery earlier in the day, Alexander attended Game 7 in a wheelchair to cheer his teammates on.

Josh Talerico (24) takes a shot on Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins in Game 5.

“When you get into a Game 7, you are really leaving everything to chance,” said Admirals general manager/head coach Paul Bortignon. “I think our guys battled hard.”

Bortignon said they had the emotion of having to make up for the loss of Alexander, plus defenseman Austin Jennings played with a partially separated shoulder Sunday night.

“I think our guys did a good job of battling for 60 minutes,” Bortignon said, adding the only goal was a shot from the point that looked like it hit something in front and went in.

The teams limited each other’s scoring chances, he continued, and that it was a closely contested Game 7.

“That was probably the most evenly matched game of the series,” said Bortignon.

The injury bug started hitting the Admirals dressing room after Game 4 and that hampered the team, but Bortignon also gave credit to the opposition.

“Mooretown did a good job capitalizing on their opportunities,” said Bortignon. “(Mooretown goalie) Jake Wilkins was a difference maker in the last three games.”

Amherstburg’s Caleb Paquette splits through the defense during the third period of Game 7 Feb. 18.

Despite leading the PJHL Stobbs Division in offense this season, Bortignon said a problem they had during the season reoccurred in the playoffs including Game 7. He said when they needed a timely goal late, they couldn’t score one.

“You can’t take anything away from Mooretown. They did a great job,” said Bortignon. “We were a game short and couldn’t find the goals when we needed them.”

The Admirals had hoped to close out the series last Thursday night at the Libro Centre but lost 4-2 to the Flags. Mooretown built a 3-0 lead in that game – with the first goal coming just eight seconds in – and didn’t look back, although Amherstburg made it a one-goal game in the second period on goals by Caleb Paquette and Alexander.

Dylan Muzzatti (15) and Travis Campbell (19) console each other after the Admirals’ Game 7 loss.

“We weren’t ready to go,” said Bortignon, after Game 5. “We’ll take responsibility for that. When you get scored on eight seconds in, it’s a coach’s mistake.”

Bortignon said there may have been guys in the locker room looking ahead but gave Mooretown credit after last Thursday’s game as well.

“We lost to a good team tonight,” he said.

In Game 4 last Wednesday, Bortignon said they built a three-goal lead after two periods and were able to get the victory.

“(Goalie) Ben (Larder) was outstanding,” he said.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals salue the crowd at the Libro Centre after Sunday night’s 1-0 loss to the Mooretown Flags in Game 7 of the PJHL 
quarterfinals. The Admirals lost the series four games to three and their 2017-18 season is now over.

McGregor, Brett Smith, Cory Burns and Josh Talerico scored for the Admirals in Game 4.

In the five years the Admirals franchise has been in Amherstburg, it is only the second time the team has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The other time was their first season in Amherstburg, when they lost in seven games to the then-Belle River Canadiens. The team was able to rebound after that and have two straight appearances in the finals as well as a semi-final appearance.

With the win, Mooretown now plays the Lakeshore Canadiens in one PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final series while the Essex 73’s take on the Dresden Jr. Kings in the other semi-final.

Caleb Paquette is turned aside by Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins in Game 7, won by Mooretown 1-0 Feb. 18.

As for the future, the Admirals lose Alexander, Ryan Holzel, Dean Patterson and captain Dylan Muzzatti as they will be too old for Jr. C hockey next year. Bortignon said they do return players like Larder, Burns and Jennings and said those players, among others, will be solid building blocks for the future. He added that management and coaches will be looking for impact players for next year’s team that can contribute immediately.

The Admirals thanked the fans for the support all season, including the over 700 fans that turned out at the Libro Centre for Game 7. Bortignon said the training and equipment staff including Don Mouck, Stu Bertram and Grant Wood are appreciated for their work as are all the volunteers and supporters of the team.

Jr. Lady Gens capture silver in WECSSAA “AA” volleyball playoffs



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Lady Gens junior girls volleyball team couldn’t quite get to the top of the mountain but are still happy with their season.

The Lady Gens were in LaSalle last Thursday night for the WECSSAA “AA” junior volleyball championship and went up against a powerful Sandwich Sabres team that went undefeated all season. The Sabres won the match and the championship with a 25-14, 25-13 and 25-23 victory.

The General Amherst Lady Gens junior girls volleyball team pose for a team shot with their silver medals after losing in three sets in the WECSSAA “AA” finals last Thursday evening at Sandwich Secondary School. (Photo by Kathy Dodds)

“They left it all on the floor,” said General Amherst head coach Mary Ewer.

Ewer said they were nervous in the first set and didn’t play their game and played better in the second set but “we weren’t able to get runs on them.” Ewer called a time out and told the Lady Gens simply to go out and have fun.

In the third game, the Lady Gens played well and led 23-20 at one point.

“The last seven points were the best seven points I’ve seen in a junior game in a long time,” Ewer stated. “It was back-and-forth. It was so much fun to watch.”

General Amherst’s Emma MacVoy (2) bumps the ball back over the net during action in the WECSSAA “AA” girls volleyball final last Thursday night at Sandwich Secondary in LaSalle.

Ewer, who coached the team with Jeff Miller and Christine Belcher this season, credited the opposition as well.

“Sandwich is a great team. They have a lot of club players, we had one,” she said. “I think our girls came out and tried our best. Sandwich is a very good defensive team.”

About 85-90 per cent of the players attended practices this season, Ewer added, and that made for “fabulous practices” and a better team.

Lexi Dodds of General Amherst goes after a loose ball during the first set of the WECSSAA “AA” volleyball final against Sandwich last Thursday night.

“We are so, so proud of them,” she said. “To me, it was a total team effort. It was lots of fun.”

Ewer said she is already looking forward to next year’s junior and senior seasons with the latter hosting the OFSAA “AA” provincial championship tournament.

Town receives funding to add more bike lanes



By Ron Giofu


The Town of Amherstburg is hoping to add one, or perhaps two, new bike lanes thanks to funding it has secured from the province.

Amherstburg has secured $97,259.51 from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) program and town council has authorized administration to enter into a transfer payment agreement with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to obtain the funding.

Both projects identified qualified for OMCC funding, manager of engineering Todd Hewitt stated in his report to town council, with those projects being the installation of paved shoulders on Alma St. from Meloche Road to Fryer St. and the installation of a second bike lane along County Road 20 from Dalhousie St. to Front Road South (Amherst Pointe).

“There is currently no budget dollars assigned to either of the eligible projects and one or both of the projects will be included in the future budgets for council consideration,” Hewitt said in his report to council. “The project(s) must be completed by December 30, 2020 to utilize the OMCC funding.”

Hewitt said the Alma St. project carries an initial estimate of $487,500 with 40 per cent of that project eligible for CWATS funding from the County of Essex.

A paved shoulder/bike lane on the other side of County Road 20 – that stretch has a bike lane on the east side of the road – has an initial estimated cost of $500,000, said Hewitt. That project would also be eligible for 40 per cent funding through CWATS.

Unless the CWATS committee expands the number of identified projects they wish to pursue, this would be it for Amherstburg’s share of projects.

“Once these two programs are done, from a CWATS perspective, we’re done,” advised Hewitt.

Councillor Leo Meloche said more needs to be done in the McGregor area, believing there is a need for more paved shoulders and trails to allow McGregor residents better walking access to parks. Councillor Rick Fryer agreed, saying there are areas of McGregor that need to be connected to ERCA’s Cypher Systems Greenway. That greenway trail runs through McGregor.

Local hockey player to play for host team in OHF championship


By Ron Giofu


The Sun County Panthers 2005 team is hosting the OHF championship in April and an Amherstburg player is part of that team.

Johnny Lopez is in his fourth year with the Sun County program and his team is hosting the provincial tournament April 9-13 in Essex. The Amherstburg youth, who was part of the 2013-14 Amherstburg Stars novice team’s OMHA championship team, is a left wing and says it feels good knowing the Panthers ’05 team has a chance at an OHF title.

“We came in first in our league,” said Lopez, adding the Panthers are currently in the playoffs.

Lopez said they have to fundraise for the tournament and also get ready to play.

Amherstburg’s Johnny Lopez is a member of the Sun County Panthers 2005 team and they will be hosting the OHF championship in Essex this coming April. Lopez is a left winger on the team. Lopez stands in front of the banner hung for the OMHA Novice champions from 2013-14, a team that he was a part of as a member of the Amherstburg Stars.

“Our goal is to win it all,” he said.

The Panthers don’t know their competition yet but they have already beaten some of the better teams around who are at their same level so they are confident.

“If we win our league, the second place team is allowed in,” he said. “We already beat them, so we have got a good shot of beating them again.”

Lopez, the lone Amherstburg player on the Panthers ’05 team, said he is a scoring winger and that his team rotates three lines throughout their games. He said his goal is to make it to the NHL. He is also thankful to his parents and his coaches for their support and assistance.

It has been an exciting year for the Panthers as they also were invited to play in the Ontario Winter Games. That tournament is being held in Orillia in early March.

Admirals push Flags to brink of elimination


By Ron Giofu

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals took a three-games-to-one lead over the Mooretown Flags Wednesday night thanks to a 4-0 win in Mooretown.

Bryce McGregor got things going for Amherstburg with a goal just 1:24 into the game. Early second period goals were scored by Brett Smith and Cory Burns to give the Admirals a 3-0 lead heading into the third period.

Unlike Game 2 when they were unable to hold the 3-0 lead, the Admirals not only kept the Flags off the scoreboard in the third period but added an insurance goal from Josh Talerico with just over five minute left to play.

Goalie Ben Larder turned aside all 38 Mooretown shots to earn the shutout.

The series comes back to the Libro Centre in Amherstburg tonight (Feb. 15) where the Admirals will have a chance to close out the PJHL Stobbs Division quarterfinal series.

All other PJHL Stobbs Division series are over with Lakeshore, Essex and Dresden having advanced in four straight games in their respective series.