Sports

Midget Majors host Elite 8 Brandy Peddie Memorial Tournament

 

 

The Amherstburg Stars midget major team was busy on the weekend, as the hockey team hosted the annual Elite 8 Brandy Peddie Memorial Tournament.

In addition to the Amherstburg Stars, the tournament featured some stiff competition from around this area and from around the province. Other teams included the defending OHF champion Bradford Bulldogs, the Erie North Shore Storm, the Essex Ravens, the Grimsby Peach Kings, the Innisfil Winterhawks, the London Jr. Mustangs and the St. Thomas Stars.

All games were played at the Libro Centre.

Amherstburg’s Ayden Drago (left) gets a third period scoring chance last Saturday morning against the Innisfil Winterhawks.

Amherstburg got off to a fast start Friday afternoon as they hosted the Erie North Shore Storm. The Stars beat Erie North Shore 5-1.

The scoring continued Saturday morning for the local Stars, as they defeated the Innisfil Winterhawks 6-1. The Stars played well in this contest with Dean DeLuca picking up a hat trick in the game. Amherstburg led 2-0 after one period on goals by Colton Taylor and Max Clifford and built a 5-0 lead after two periods with DeLuca scoring all three second period goals. Isaac Hammond scored in the third with Innisfil breaking the shutout in the final seconds for its goal.

The Stars lost their final game of the round-robin 4-1 Saturday night to London but advanced to the tournament semi-finals Sunday morning against Bradford. Unfortunately for Amherstburg, it was Bradford who picked up the 3-1 win to advance to the finals.

London defeated Bradford 6-3 in the finals.

Local farm holds Sunhall Harvestfest Dressage show

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local horse farm held its recent Sunhall Harvestfest Dressage Show.

Farm owner Libby Keenan said the show, located on her farm on Concession 5 North, featured about 30 riders from around Essex County. Maddy Dronfield of Barrie was the novice level judge with Suzanne Marsh from Blue Fox Farm on Walker Road in Harrow being the advanced judge.

“There were roughly 25 classes in six divisions ranging from Leadline, (very young beginners being led by handlers on the ground) to Fourth Level, which are the tests immediately before the International level,” said Keenan.

Kara Kopacz rides her horse Andante
during the recent Sunhall Harvestfest Dressage show at Libby Keenan’s horse farm on Concession 5 North.

There was a good turnout of spectators including coaches, friends, parents and proud grandparents and a number of general public onlookers, Keenan reported.

“The weather was terrific and there was a strong demand for Jeff Kopacz’s tasty grilled burgers and hot dogs complimented by lovely home made pies crafted by one of the coaches’ grandfathers,” said Keenan. “The weather was cool and breezy but kind with just a crisp of fall in the air. Based on the turnout and the good time enjoyed by all I expect to hold it again next year.”

Keenan added they had “several wonderful prize donations” that came from local retailers including Harrow Feed, Megan Wye of Kingsville, Jeff Kopacz, Purina and many others.

Admirals clipped by first place Canadiens

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a case of “close but no cigar” for Amherstburg’s Jr. C hockey team Friday night.

The Lakeshore Canadiens got a goal from Steven Sartor with just 3:52 left in the third period and that gave the Canadiens a 2-1 win over the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals at the Atlas Tube Centre.

Lakeshore opened the scoring at the 18:11 mark of the first period on a goal by Ameen Fadel but the Admirals tied it thanks to a Travis Campbell powerplay goal 5:41 into the second period.

Ryan Alexander (16, right) makes his way into the Lakeshore zone during third period action Nov. 3 at the Atlas Tube Centre.

“For the most part, we were good with the exception of two shifts,” stated Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “Key mistakes led to two goals.”

In a game against the first place Canadiens, mistakes are magnified by 100, Bortignon believed. He said it was a disappointing game in some respects, noting they converted one of five powerplay opportunities.

The first Lakeshore goal was a result of a missed backcheck, said Bortignon, with the second being the result of poor communication on a defensive zone assignment.

Amherstburg’s Caleb Paquette (6, white jersey) gets a scoring chance on Lakeshore goalie Erik Morneau during the third period of last Friday night’s game at the Atlas Tube Centre.

“You can’t make mistakes like that otherwise it ends up in the back of your net as it did tonight,” Bortignon said after Friday night’s game.

The Admirals competed hard and the defensive zone coverage was solid overall, he added. Another positive was the play of goalie Ben Larder, who made 28 saves on the night.

Amherstburg has to do a better job converting offensive opportunities, Bortignon added, saying they’ve lost a number of one-goal games this season including the most recent game in Lakeshore.

“We had plenty of chances to get the win. That’s the frustrating part,” said Bortignon. “We didn’t capitalize on our chances.”

Admirals goalie Ben Larder (1, right) slides to make a save during the third period of last Friday night’s game in Lakeshore.

The Admirals will be working on fundamentals and special teams in practice this week, Bortignon said, as they want to start winning more consistently to get home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

Amherstburg is 6-7-2-1 (15 points) through the first 16 games of the 40-game regular season schedule. They will be busy this weekend with three games in three nights. The Admirals will be in Dresden Friday night before returning home to play Blenheim Saturday and Mooretown Sunday with both home games being at 7 p.m.

University of Windsor coach tries to help other hockey coaches

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) offered a chance for some of their coaches to get some coaching tips thanks to the University of Windsor’s head coach.

Lancer coach Kevin Hamlin spoke to a group of about 25 travel coaches from AMHA at the Libro Centre and tried to impart some of the wisdom he has accumulated from his days as a university and pro player as well as from his coaching career. Hamlin’s coaching stops have included the Windsor Spitfires, Cornell University, Belle River Canadiens, Leamington Flyers, Sarnia Bees and St. Clair College as well as the Lancers.

“His credentials speak for themselves,” said AMHA travel vice president Greg Crain. “You are not going to get a better leader with more knowledge.”

Hamlin said coming out and talking with other coaches was something he enjoyed.

University of Windsor men’s hockey coach Kevin Hamlin addresses AMHA coaches during a recent talk at the Libro Centre.

“There are few places I’d rather be than be in a room with a bunch of coaches,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin encouraged the AMHA travel coaches to find something in his presentation they liked “and make it your own.

“You’re a role model,” he told the coaches. “Our athletes are watching us. We’re role models.”

Hamlin outlined his own background, recalling the day when his father enrolled him in hockey to when friend Brad Smith got him into coaching with the Spitfires. He told the coaches there are “four seasons of coaching” and the first one is the end of the season.

At the end of the season, coaches have to evaluate and critically analyze their program. Hamlin acknowledged that it isn’t easy, but “you have to. It’s about the kids we serve.”

Hamlin said that process not only helps make players better, but it actually helped him as a coach.

“It made me a better coach,” he said. “I used to hate it.”

The off-season was the second “season” of coaching, with team building being a part of that.

“The more you know each other, the more you’ll fight for each other,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin added that seasons is also when he recruits players, noting he recruits character first. He also encouraged coaches to find assistant coaches that can help with areas the head coaches may not be strong at so that they complement each other better.

The pre-season is the next stage and then it is the in-season portion of the coaches’ life. Hamlin said he spends about 15 minutes planning a practice, saying it is very important to plan for a good practice. He went over various hockey skills with the coaches and advised them on what drills can be used with players.

“Repetition is absolutely essential,” said Hamlin. “Make sure they got it before you move on.”

University of Windsor men’s hockey coach Kevin Hamlin (left) spoke with a group of AMHA travel coaches recently. AMHA vice president of travel Greg Crain (right) presents Hamlin with a plaque to thank him for his visit.

As for developing goalies, Hamlin encouraged coaches to not try and mold goalies into something they aren’t and said they can defer to a goalie coach for development at that position.

Most of all, Hamlin said he wants players and coaches to have fun.

Hamlin said he was asked to come by AMHA and said he enjoys speaking with coaches at the grassroots level. He indicated he would be willing to return if a request is made.

“This is the very least I can do,” he said. “They are doing tremendous work. They are making differences in the lives of young people. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here to do.”

Jr. Bulldogs show heart in season-ending loss

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Bulldogs junior football team may not have won a game this season, but the coaches still saw progress this season.

The Bulldogs lost to the Sandwich Sabres 34-10 last Tuesday afternoon at Centennial Park to finish the 2017 WECSSAA junior football season 0-6. The Sabres did all of their scoring in the first half and led 34-3. General Amherst took some pride in winning the second half, as they outscored Sandwich 7-0.

Austin Farmer (22, left) outruns a pair of Sandwich defenders during a run in the second half Oct. 31 at Centennial Park.

The Sabres started quick with a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. After recovering the ensuing onside kick, Sandwich scored again on a 32-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-0.

The Sabres scored three touchdowns in the second quarter thanks to a 39-yard run, a 13-yard run and a 22-yard pass with a fourth touchdown called back on a penalty. The Sabres also had another major called back due to a penalty in the third quarter.

Will Jones booted a 30-yard field goal for the Bulldogs in the second quarter with Anthony McCarthy scoring from a yard out in the fourth quarter. The latter touchdown was set up thanks to strong running from Austin Farmer on that drive.

Preston Muzzin (84) makes a catch in the first half of General Amherst’s Oct. 31 game versus Sandwich. The Sabres won 34-10.

Quarterback Emmitt Rosati missed the game due to his lingering ankle injury.

“We started a lot of Grade 9’s to give them experience,” said General Amherst head coach Dino Rosati. “They did well.”

The Bulldogs knew they were out of the playoffs, Rosati added, as they had to win the previous week’s game versus Catholic Central to have a shot. Despite being eliminated from playoff contention, Rosati said Amherst still played hard.

“They played right until the end,” he said.

Members of the senior team helped with the coaching, he added, with Emmitt also helping to coach as he called the plays on offense.

General Amherst quarterback Nolan Crain (82) throws a pass during General Amherst’s loss to the Sandwich Sabres Oct. 31 at Centennial Park.

Rosati said about 12-14 players are eligible to return next season. The junior Bulldogs featured a lot of Grade 9 players that were new to football this season.

“I think we learned a lot,” said Rosati. “We had a good number of inexperienced Grade 9’s.”

With a year of football under their belts, Rosati said the Bulldogs have a “good chance to be successful” next season.