Midget Majors surge during December


Special to the RTT


The month started with back to back tournaments in Fort Erie and LaSalle, and competition was stiff at both.

We made it to the quarterfinals in Fort Erie, but could not get past the Fort Erie Meteors, who had home ice advantage.

In LaSalle, we came out of the gates quickly with two wins, but would drop the next two and were outside looking in at the semi-finals, which came down to goal differential.  The roster was fluid with some call-ups required, but would stabilize shortly after the tournaments.

The Bluewater League is where we saw the real positives this month.  After losing to LaSalle to start, we would string together four straight wins bringing us to 7-3-0 in our last ten Bluewater games; among the top in the league.

The most notable victory was 3-1 over the first place Kent Cobras at their barn, handing them only their fourth loss this season.  We would follow this up with a 4-1 win over LaSalle, where we had lost to them our previous three games.

We have two regular season games remaining in early January, before jumping straight into playdowns. (UPDATE: one of those games was a 4-1 win over Riverside at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.)

Please come out and support your Midget Major Stars!


—Submitted by Dustin Soulliere

Hockey for Hospice raises $339,063


By Jolene Perron


“Every year it scares me because every year the pressure is on the following year, but it’s a good thing. This year, we just seemed to blow the doors off.”

Paul Pietraszko, co-organizer of Hockey for Hospice said while the setup is busy and at times can be all consuming, everything “seems to vanish with that first number.” This year, the fundraiser was able to top their goal, once again, bringing in an additional $37,000 in comparison to 2016.

Players of a variety of ages took to the ice Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 for Hockey for Hospice. The tournament spanned over five area arenas, and brought in a total of $339,063 for Hospice, which is up from last year.

The fundraiser was originally begun as a skate-a-thon at the now-demolished AMA Arena, which was founded by Tim Beaulieu. Pietraszko explained Beaulieu was in need of Hospice and he felt, after seeing what they do, that Hospice was where he needed to focus his energy. Pietraszko said the tournament since then has “grown (by) leaps and bounds,” thanks to their family, friends, and community partners.

Across five arenas including the Libro Centre, a total of 145 teams played 318 games of hockey. The tournament included approximately 2,100 players, as well as all of their families and relatives who came out to watch the games, and all of the local arenas were simply bursting at the seams during the three-day tournament Dec. 27 through Dec. 29.

Players of a variety of ages took to the ice Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 for Hockey for Hospice. The tournament spanned over five area arenas, and brought in a total of $339,063 for Hospice, which is up from last year.

“I’m speechless with the amount of work they have done, even right up to last minute, bringing in new parts to the program, parts to the event all in support of Hospice. When you ask how I feel about it, amazed, and absolutely grateful for the support that they give,” said Stephen Brennan, senior director for Hospice. “It provides the opportunity for hospice to keep offering our services without fees.”

Players of a variety of ages took to the ice Dec. 27 through Dec. 29 for Hockey for Hospice. The tournament spanned over five area arenas, and brought in a total of $339,063 for Hospice, which is up from last year.

In total, the fundraiser, which has been in existence for 22 years, has brought in more than $2.6 million for Hospice. Every year they have been able to say they topped the previous year, and this year is no different. In addition to the growing sum of money, the tournament itself continues to grow – this year, they had an additional 13 teams. Pietraszko explained the tournament grows consistently every year, and they have no idea what the final number can, or will be, all they know is it will continue to run.

“It’s the kids that do it, and they’ve done a phenomenal job with all the money they have raised,” said Pietraszko. “The kids can ask, but the people have to give and the people just keep giving and giving. Every year we get nervous about whether we’re going to get enough referees, get enough ice, and we always seem to get it. It will always be something exciting, it usually gets a little bit scary, but then that first puck is dropped, and the pledge money comes in and everything is fine.”

General Amherst, Amherstburg police square off in charity hockey game



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Bulldogs boys hockey team and the Amherstburg police hockey team squared off in a game during the holidays, but the big winners were Ontario Special Olympics.

The charity game saw the Bulldogs win on the scoreboard but no one seemed to care about the final result afterword as proceeds went to the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which in turn helps support Special Olympics.

Sgt. Mike Cox said it was the reintroduction of the charity game with General Amherst, noting that players who now play for the police team once played against them when they were in high school. He hoped it would be the first of two charity hockey games before the season is over.

The General Amherst Bulldogs and Amherstburg police hockey teams gather for a group photo following their charity hockey game for the Torch Run Dec. 22. The Torch Run helps support Ontario Special Olympics.

“I’m hoping to play the Admirals at the end of their season,” said Cox. “Hopefully it will be in June after they win a championship.”

The game against the Bulldogs featured several father/son combinations on the Amherstburg police team, including Don and Gage Brown, Chris and Luke Renaud as well as Joe and Kyle Shaw. Joe Shaw is usually an assistant coach with the Bulldogs while Kyle is a former OHL player. Another former OHL player, Zack Percy, also suited up for the police team.

General Amherst head coach Pat Garrett said his team had the opportunity to participate in the charity game and they seized it.

“Obviously, it’s a fantastic cause,” Garrett said of Ontario Special Olympics. “It’s a cause we all believe in.”

Garrett credited General Amherst principal Melissa DeBruyne for getting the game back on the Bulldogs’ schedule. DeBruyne, who played up for the police team, said she was glad to do it.

“It’s just about giving back to Special Olympics,” she said. “It was an opportunity to bring back a past tradition.”

The final day before the Christmas break for the school also saw a staff-student volleyball game and the staff prepare breakfast for the students.

“It’s about bringing the community in,” she said. “It’s the spirit of giving. It was a lot of fun.”

Sgt. Mike Cox drops the puck between General Amherst boys hockey team captain Josh DiCarlo (left) and principal Melissa DeBruyne, who suited up for the police team at the recent charity hockey game.

DeBruyne said the school received donations from Maria’s Restaurant, Meloche’s No Frills, Sobeys, parent council and teachers.

As for her playing for the police team, DeBruyne said she enjoys playing hockey whenever she gets a chance.

“I’ve got such a passion for hockey,” she said. “Every time I get on the ice, I love it.”

Admirals win seventh straight game, 12th out of last 13



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals closed out the 2017 portion of their schedule with their seventh straight victory and 12th win out of their last 13 games.

The Admirals downed the last place Wallaceburg Lakers 4-1 Friday night at the Libro Centre thanks to two goals from Cory Burns and single goals from Dylan Muzzatti and Ryan Alexander. The win put them in first place in the PJHL’s Stobbs Division with a 20-8-2-2 record, good for 44 points.

Goalie Catalin Morin recorded his first win in about three months and made 17 saves. Wallaceburg got its goal from Ryan Nicholson in the final minute of the game to break the shutout.

They were one point up on both the Lakeshore Canadiens and Essex 73’s after that game, though the 73’s had a chance to regain first place Tuesday night, after this issue of the River Town Times went to press.

Amherstburg forward Zack Yott (17, dark jersey) gets a scoring chance on Wallaceburg goalie Patrick Timpany during the first period of last Friday night’s game at the Libro Centre. The Admirals won the Jr. C hockey game 4-1.

“Who would have thought we’d finish (2017) in first place with the way we played at the start of the season?” asked Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “That’s obviously pretty important for this group.”

Bortignon said that should give the Admirals momentum as they look to finish the 2017-18 season strong. The 40-game regular season concludes at the end of January.

“We’ve had a great run and we’re going to focus on coming together and getting even better in 2018,” said Bortignon.

While acknowledging Wallaceburg’s struggles this season, Bortignon said the fact the Lakers picked up a 2-0 win last Wednesday night against Lakeshore was enough of a wake-up call for the Admirals not to let their guard down.

“That’s all we needed to get ready for this one,” he said. “Obviously, (Wallaceburg) isn’t up in the standings like other teams but a win is always good in this league.”

Bortignon said they were shorthanded three times in the third period and said they don’t want to pick up bad habits going forward, but was happy with the defensive effort and the Lakers’ low shot total.

The Admirals also played last Wednesday, a 3-2 win over the visiting Dresden Jr. Kings. After Dresden opened the scoring on a Will Tetzlaff goal, Travis Campbell, Michael Hatch and Josh Talerico scored before the first period was over to give Amherstburg a 3-1 lead. Cory Lucier cut it to 3-2 just 35 seconds into the second period but the teams were scoreless after that.

Ben Larder made 33 saves on the night for the Admirals.

“We got the win but it was not the best of efforts,” Bortignon said after Wednesday night’s game. “It was sloppy at both ends.”

Broden Meloche (71) of the Admirals drives to the net during the third period of last Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the Dresden Jr. Kings at the Libro Centre. Also pictured is Dresden’s Cory Lucier.

The Admirals had two big penalty kills in the game’s final ten minutes, said Bortignon, and managed to shake off some rust that had accumulated over the Christmas break.

“You don’t want to make excuses, but it showed,” said Bortignon, of the layoff.

He added: “That’s one game where the guys kept fighting and fighting and they fought for the win and the two points.”

The Admirals battle the Canadiens in Lakeshore Friday night and the 73’s come to the Libro Centre Sunday night. Both games start at 7 p.m.

Bulldogs rally to salvage tie with Kingsville



By Ron Giofu


In a game that was similar to their previous one against Essex, the General Amherst Bulldogs boys hockey team rallied to salvage a 3-3 tie against Kingsville.

The Bulldogs and Cavaliers battled at the Libro Centre just before the Christmas break began and the visitors broke out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. The third Kingsville goal seemed to awaken the Bulldogs, as they quickly responded with two goals on the same shift. Max Clifford and Josh DiCarlo made it a 3-2 game before the intermission.

Isaac Hammond tied the game in the third period and that is how it ended.

“It seems to be our M.O. lately,” said General Amherst head coach Pat Garrett, of coming from behind to tie games. “We certainly don’t want to make a habit of that.”

General Amherst’s Isaac Hammond (left) drives to the net in the boys hockey team recent game against the Kingsville Cavaliers. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.

Garrett pointed out it was their fifth game in two days, as they advanced to the semi-finals of a tournament that week as well.

“Kingsville was missing a few players,” Garrett added. “We may have taken them too lightly. It’s nice to be able to pull out the tie.”

Garrett said the tie puts the Bulldogs in sole possession of second place in their division, the WECSSAA “AA” Cullen Conference. General Amherst is 3-1-2 on the season at the break, good for eight points. L’Essor and Essex each have nine points but General Amherst has a game in hand on both teams.

General Amherst’s Josh DiCarlo scores a second period goal against Kingsville Dec. 21. The Bulldogs overcame a 3-0 deficit and tied Kingsville 3-3.

Parts of the Bulldogs’ game that Garrett wants to improve include offensive zone pressure, as he stated that much of their offense comes from the perimeter and not in front of the net. He also wants to improve the powerplay.

“Josh and Max are carrying the load offensively,” said Garrett. “We’ve got some other pretty good players that have got to start hitting the back of the net.”

The Bulldogs resume WECSSAA action with a game at the Vollmer Centre in LaSalle Jan. 9 versus the Sandwich Sabres. The following game is not until Jan. 16 when the Belle River Nobles come to the Libro Centre for a 3 p.m. game.