Ben Larder

Season ends for Admirals at the hands of Essex 73’s


By Ron Giofu


The season is over for the Amherstburg Admirals.

The Admirals lost in four straight games to the Essex 73’s, the fourth and final game being a 5-2 defeat Sunday night at the Libro Centre. Travis Campbell and Michael Hatch gave the Admirals a 2-0 lead but Essex would score the next five and end the Admirals’ season.

Essex had won 2-1 in Game 3 the night before to push the Admirals to the brink of elimination from the PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final series with Josh DiCarlo scoring the lone goal in that game for Amherstburg. The 73’s now await the winner of the other semi-final between the Lakeshore Canadiens and Dresden Jr. Kings.

Amherstburg’s Bryce McGregor (18) gets a scoring chance on Essex goalie Connor Meyerink during Game 2.

“I told the guys we obviously did good things this year with records and stuff,” said Amherstburg head coach Paul Bortignon.

Bortignon called it “one of the most competitive four-game sweeps I’ve ever been a part of.” With the exception of a 6-2 loss in Game 2 last Thursday night in Amherstburg, Bortignon said every game was there for the taking in the third period.

“(Essex) just found ways to get goals at the right time and found breaks in the games,” he said. “Essex had results in the third period. Hats off to them.”

In Game 2, Bortignon said they allowed “too many easy goals” with many coming off of rebounds. He pulled starting goalie Ben Larder in favour of backup Jared Ratko hoping to change the momentum but it didn’t work, noting they didn’t get a shot in the first ten minutes of the third period. Andrew Clark and Ty Moss scored for the Admirals that night.

Admirals captain Austin Jennings chats with referee Nick Long during the first overtime in Game 1 in Essex.

The first game, played last Tuesday night in Essex, saw the 73’s win 3-2 in double overtime. Caleb Paquette and Cory Burns scored for the Admirals with Burns unable to score on a penalty shot in overtime. The Admirals looked to have won it in the first overtime that night, but a goal was called back thanks to a spearing penalty.

Bortignon said after Game 4 that he believes the Admirals have the physical ability of Essex but praised the 73’s mental toughness. He said they will work on improving that in the off-season, adding they will be back in the coming weeks with their mini-camp to get ready for the 2019-20 season.

Amherstburg’s Ty Moss (14) carries the puck up the ice during Game 2.

The Admirals bid farewell to overage players Burns, Larder, Campbell and team captain Austin Jennings, with those players being thanked for their efforts to the organization.

Team co-owner Wes Ewer added that they are grateful to the fans for their support as well as the sponsors. He said they are looking forward to many more years to come in Amherstburg.

Admirals sweep Flags, advance to semi-finals



By Christian Bouchard


The Amherstburg Admirals are back in the semifinals.

The Admirals have avenged their Game 7 loss from last season against the Mooretown Flags by sweeping the best-of-seven series 4-0 and are now in the semifinals of the PJHL Stobbs division.

The offense exploded for six goals on the road in Game 4 last Wednesday night. Josh Talerico would score two goals while Cole Welsh, Austin Jennings and Cory Burns would each have at least a goal and an assist. Goalie Ben Larder stopped 49 of the 50 shots he faced in net.

According to Larder, from start to finish, nobody backed down. He added the series sweep was “redemption for sure.”

“Everyone’s giving a full effort now,” said Talerico, who scored six goals in the four game series. “It’s good to get the sweep and get the rest we need.”

Travis Campbell (19) and Cole Welsh (4) celebrate Cory Burns first period goal during Game 4 against Mooretown.

With their ninth straight victory, the Admirals will now face the first place Essex 73’s in the semifinals. Amherstburg has never beaten the 73’s in the playoffs, including back-to-back loses in the finals. The last time Amherstburg and Essex faced each other in the playoffs was in 2017 when Essex swept the best-of-seven series 4-0.

Despite what the history books have to say, Larder is confident his team has what it takes to defeat the 73’s and advance to the finals.

“Essex is a good hockey team all around,” said Larder. “We’re expecting a tough series and we’re prepared. Everyone is sacrificing and showing how bad they want to win.”

The 73’s top line of Josh Pope-Ferguson, William Stadder and Michael Vieira have accounted for 77 of the 155 goals (49.6 per cent) scored during the regular season for Essex.

According to Talerico, while shutting down the top line will be a major key to victory, the Admirals must remember they have four lines of their own capable of scoring.

Josh Talerico (24) scores one of his team’s six goals during the Feb. 13 series clinching game at Mooretown. The Admirals swept the Flags in four straight games and play the Essex 73’s in the PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final starting Feb. 19 in Essex.

“Shutting down their top line and playing our game is key,” said Talerico. “Once we get going, it’s hard for teams to stop us.”

The best-of-seven series began Tuesday night in Essex after this issue of the RTT went to press. Game 2 is Thursday at the Libro Centre at 7 p.m. while Game 3 is back in Essex Saturday at 6:45 p.m. Game 4 is in Amherstburg Sunday at 7 p.m.

If necessary, Game 5 is next Tuesday in Essex at 7 p.m. while Game 6 would be in Amherstburg March 1 at 7:30 p.m. Should a Game 7 be required, it would be March 3 in Essex at 2:30 p.m.

Admirals honour overage players, prepare for playoffs



By Christian Bouchard


Four Amherstburg Admirals celebrated a bittersweet victory Sunday night.

Cory Burns, Travis Campbell, Austin Jennings and Ben Larder are all aging out of the league and played in their final regular season home game before playoffs begin in February.

The Admirals were led to victory by the overagers in Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Wheatley Sharks. Burns, Campbell and Jennings would each score for the Admirals while Ben Larder recorder recorded 24 saves for the win and also added an assist.

The win improves the Admirals record to 28-9-0-3, good for 59 points for the season, which is a new franchise record in points and tied for most wins. The Admirals also set a new franchise record for fewest goals against, with 88. It was also the first time the Admirals allowed fewer than 100 goals in a season.

Admirals overage players Austin Jennings, Cory Burns, Travis Campbell and Ben Larder were joined by their families and team co-owners Matt Fox, Gaspare Spada and Wes Ewer for a special ceremony honouring them prior to Sunday night’s home game with Wheatley. It was the final regular season game of the 2018-19 season for the Admirals.

The Admirals have secured a top four spot in the playoffs, ranging from the second to fourth seed.  With a couple games remaining in the regular season for other teams, the Admirals wait to find out who their first round matchup will be.

While the Admirals remain patient, they have one thing on their minds: winning a championship.

“To win a championship for this town would mean everything,” said Ben Larder, the franchise leader in wins, save percentage and shutouts. “It’s something I always wanted and something I’ll work endlessly to achieve.”

According to head coach Paul Bortignon, the four overage players did an excellent job this season leading by example and teaching the younger players what it takes to build a championship team.

Amherstburg’s Ty Moss (left) reacts after one of his team’s five goals versus Wheatley.

“The OAs did a great job,” added Bortignon. “I always believe you’re going to go as far as your OAs take you and we got a great group this year. Hopefully that leads to 12 more wins in the Stobbs division playoffs.”

Since entering the division in 2013, the Admirals have never won a Stobbs Division championship. Despite several seasons of tough losses, the Admirals players and coaches said they’ve learned from the past and think they have the team to win a championship this year.

“This team wants it more than any other team I’ve ever been a part of,” said Burns, the Admirals franchise leader in points. “We don’t want to relive the pain from last year.”

The Admirals playoff schedule and matchup has not yet been posted.

The Jr. C hockey team has also released its playoff video. It can be found here:









Admirals extend winning streak to six games



By Christian Bouchard


The Amherstburg Admirals have extended their winning streak to six games.

Ben Larder recorded his league-leading fifth shutout Sunday night to lead the Admirals to a 4-0 victory over the Mooretown Flags. Cory Burns and Jacob Fields each had a goal and an assist while Ty Moss and Josh Talerico would also score for the Admirals.

The win was the Admirals third straight victory via shutout and seventh of the season.

Amherstburg’s Andrew Clark (15) is pursued behind the Mooretown net by Duncan Core (18) of the Flags during Sunday night’s 4-0 Admirals’ victory.

According to Larder, the Admirals continue to stress the importance of protecting their home ice and playing great defense. Sunday’s win improved the teams home record to 11-1-0-1, which is the best home record in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s (PJHL) Stobbs Division.

“I think our defense had more saves than me tonight,” said Larder. “We only allowed 14 shots and that shows how great our defense is. I’m thankful to have guys in front of me blocking shots and helping to keep the puck out of the net.”

Despite Larder’s success, he attributes his success to his teammates who blocked shots throughout the night. In addition, Larder also mentioned how thankful he is for his father’s continued support.

“It’s a three-hour drive to come watch me play and most of the time it has worked out well,” added Larder. “I’m grateful for that and it’s a huge reason for my confidence.”

The Admirals are now 18-5-0-3, good for third place and 39 points. Captain Austin Jennings said he is pleased with the team’s play but understands the importance of the next two games versus the defending league champions Lakeshore Canadiens this Friday night on the road and the first place Essex 73’s Sunday at home.

Admirals forward Broden Meloche passes the puck during the Dec. 16 win over Mooretown.

“It’s a big two points,” said Jennings. “We know it will be a playoff atmosphere and we got a lot of veterans who know what it’s like. We got to come out strong Friday and build on it Sunday night.”

When the Admirals host the 73’s this Sunday night, Jennings wishes to see another packed crowd.

“We got a good core of fans who come out, kids and adults,” added Jennings. “Playing in front of a big crowd always helps. Hearing the goal horn and the roar of the crowd is something special.





Admirals split games over the weekend



By Christian Bouchard


After losing to last year’s defending league champions, the Amherstburg Admirals bounced back with a resounding 6-1 win over the Petrolia Flyers.

The Admirals fought hard but would fall 3-1 to the Lakeshore Canadiens Friday night. Their luck would fare better as they would get six goals on Sunday and another great performance by Ben Larder in net to pick up two points on Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association night in front of approximately 500 fans.

Cory Burns scores a first period goal against the Petrolia Flyers Sunday night.

The Admirals showed their depth as six different players found the back of the net. Goals were scored by Cory Burns, Max Clifford, Caleb Paquette, Brett Smith, Bryce McGregor and Josh Talerico.

“The team has bonded, we’re much closer together and it shows on the ice,” said Admirals goalie Ben Larder.

The 21-year-old netminder was just 4:21 away from his fourth shutout this season. He has now won his last five games while starting and has an impressive 1.74 goals against average this season.

With the win, the Admirals are now 4-0-0-1 at home. While head coach/general manager Paul Bortignon and Admirals leading scorer Cory Burns have stated the importance of protecting home ice all season long, Larder said it is also important to play for each other.

“It’s pedal to the metal, doing everything you can for the other guys on the team, because that’s who we play for,” said Larder.

Broden Meloche carries the puck up the ice during Sunday night’s win over Petrolia.

The Admirals host their rival, the Essex 73’s next Sunday. The Admirals lost the only previous meeting between the two teams this year by a final score of 6-3.

“We’re a different team than we were in the season opener,” added Larder. “Yes, we came out flat against them in the first game of the season but that’s just one game.”

To celebrate the holidays, the Admirals are welcoming kids 11 and under free admission to the game with a costume and will be holding a trick-or-treating event following the game in the Admirals dressing room.