Cory Burns

Admirals hand out awards at annual banquet

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2017-18 Amherstburg Admirals reassembled Saturday night and celebrated the season, though admitting it wasn’t the result they were looking for.

The local Jr. C hockey team held its annual awards banquet in the Libro Centre’s community room with high hopes for next year and gratitude for the players, coaches, parents and volunteers that helped with this past season. The Admirals season ended in the first round of the PJHL Stobbs Division playoffs after they lost 1-0 in Game 7 to the Mooretown Flags Feb. 18.

“There are a lot of positives going forward,” said co-owner Wes Ewer. “(Co-owners) Matt (Fox), Gaspare (Spada) and I are excited for the future of this team.”

Ewer offered thanks to all who were involved with the team this past season.

“Without the players and parents, we don’t have a hockey team. Thank you for being part of our family,” he said. “I love that we are a tight knit group and I hope we continue that in the future.”

Ewer said they are one of the groups bidding to operate the pro shop at the Libro Centre, saying it would add value to the hockey team.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals held its award banquets Saturday evening at the Libro Centre. Front row (from left): Ben Larder, Reid Stieler, Dylan Muzzatti, Dean Patterson, Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander and Cory Burns. Back row (from left): assistant coach Daniel Slipchuck, Cole Welsh, assistant coach Eric Shaw, Josh Talerico, head coach/GM Paul Bortignon, assistant coach Rob Bondy, Austin Jennings, equipment manager Grant Wood and co-owner Matt Fox.

Head coach/general manager Paul Bortignon agreed, telling the group in attendance at the banquet that “we couldn’t do anything without you guys.” He added they are looking forward to a better result in the 2018-19 season though admitted they would missing having Fox behind the bench. Eric Shaw and Daniel Slipchuk have been added to the coaching staff.

Bortignon said “we had a successful year points-wise” though admitted they didn’t really want a first round playoff match-up with Mooretown. He believed the Admirals will take a big step forward next season, though acknowledged they will have to do so without graduating players Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander, Dean Patterson and Dylan Muzzatti, the latter being the captain for the 2017-18 season.

“It is a precious time,” Bortignon said of the junior hockey experience. “You are going to remember this going forward. Be proud of yourselves. Be proud of what you accomplished.”

The team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was shared by Cory Burns, the PJHL Stobbs Division leading scorer, and Ben Larder, whom Bortignon believes is one of the top goalies in the league. Austin Jennings and Dean Patterson shared the Defenseman of the Year Award with Reid Stieler being named Rookie of the Year.

The John Holzel Photographer Award was shared by the four graduating players. Cole Welsh captured the Don Elvy Teammate of the Year Award while the Earl Allard Coaches’ Award went to Josh Talerico. The Spada Family Bursary was award to Jennings.

Jennings was also named the new captain of the Admirals, with Burns, Travis Campbell and Caleb Paquette being named assistant captains.

“It’s super exciting,” said Jennings, of being named captain. “It’s something I wanted to be since I was a kid.”

Jennings said he wants to help lead his teammates, with the goal being “nothing short of winning it all.” He added he wants to help the younger players as “I want to show them what it takes to be a leader.” Jennings was an assistant captain last year and becoming captain was one of his goals.

“I want to do something good for the town. They’ve been with us through the ups and downs. I want to bring something back for them,” Jennings stated.

The team also paid tribute to the late Tom Schinkelshoek, who was with the president of the team when it was known as the Kingsville Comets and stayed with the team in different roles when the franchise moved to Amherstburg. He returned to Kingsville as president of the Kingsville Kings.

The Admirals will hold summer skates in the next few months before holding their training camp in late August.

The 2018-19 season will get started in September.

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.

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.

Admirals hold two-games-to-one lead in PJHL playoff series

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Unlike the regular season when the road team won four of the five games, the home team has won each of the first three games in the Admirals’ PJHL Stobbs Division quarterfinal with the Mooretown Flags.

The Admirals took a two-games-to-one lead in the series thanks to a 7-2 win Sunday night at the Libro Centre. A Josh Talerico wrist shot gave the Admirals a 1-0 lead late in the first period and Caleb Paquette made it a 2-0 lead 30 seconds into the second period with a powerplay goal but Garrett Miller and Ryan Lyle quickly tied it for the Flags.

After that, it was all Amherstburg as the Admirals got a breakaway goal from Cory Burns late in the second period and third period goals from Ryan Alexander, Austin Jennings, Amilio Acampora and Brett Smith, the latter being a powerplay goal.

Amherstburg’s Caleb Paquette (6, left) breaks in alone on Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins during third period action in Game 1. Paquette didn’t score on the play but the Admirals would win that game 4-2 Feb. 7.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon said Game 3 could have gone either way after a disappointing loss in Game 2. He said they got off to a good start and did a good job bouncing back after Mooretown had tied it at two in the second period of Sunday’s game.

“I thought our guys did a good job keeping their composure in the third period,” said Bortignon. “We just did a lot of things right. We played with a lot of speed in the third.”

Bortignon added that the Admirals should get a momentum boost from the game but acknowledged Mooretown won’t be happy with what happened in Game 3 and will look to turn things around in Game 4.

Before the game, Burns was honoured with an award for being the Stobbs Division’s scoring leader in the regular season. Burns finished with 65 points.

Game 2 was a heartbreaker for the Admirals, as they squandered a 3-0 lead and fell 4-3 in overtime in Mooretown Saturday night.

Admirals co-owner/assistant coach Matt Fox presents Cory Burns with an award prior to Sunday’s Game 3 as Burns was the leading scorer in the PJHL Stobbs Division during the 2017-18 regular season with 65 points. (Photo by John Holzel)

Dylan Muzzatti’s first period goal gave Amherstburg a 1-0 lead with Kyle Meloche and Michael Hatch adding second period goals for the Admirals. However, Nolan Riley, Joe Ferrera and Ryan Lyle scored third period goals for the Flags – the latter two being in the final three minutes of the game and while Mooretown had their goalie out for the extra attacker.

Lyle would score again 7:17 into overtime, this goal being on a powerplay, to give Mooretown the victory.

Mooretown outshot Amherstburg 59-30 in Game 2.

Game 1 saw the Admirals get off to a slow start as Joe Stock and Cameron Rannie gave the Flags a 2-0 lead just past the halfway mark of the first period. However, the Admirals would score the next four goals en route to a 4-2 win.

Ryan Alexander’s first of two goals came on a powerplay at the 14:26 mark of the first period and he tied the game almost 13 minutes into the second period. Keegan MacVoy broke the tie when his point shot found the back of the net on a powerplay at the 4:19 point of the third period with Broden Meloche scoring the fourth Amherstburg goal just over four minutes later.

The Flags outshot the Admirals 31-27 in Game 1.

Cory Burns (9) scores a second period goal on Mooretown’s Nolan Hakr during the second period of Game 3 Feb. 11. Amherstburg won that game 7-2.

“It took us a little while to get into it,” said Bortignon after Game 1. “(Mooretown) was ready for playoff hockey and it took us 6-7 minutes for us to get going. It was a good wake-up call for our club, for sure.”

Bortignon said they started Game 1 playing “regular season hockey” but quickly found their playoff mode.

“We expect this one to go long,” he said of the Mooretown series. “All we can control is how we play.”
Game 4 is Wednesday (Feb. 14) in Mooretown with Game 5 being Thursday at 7 p.m.

If necessary, Game 6 will be Saturday night in Mooretown with a seventh and deciding game being at the Libro Centre Sunday at 7 p.m. Monitor www.rivertowntimes.com and our social media feeds throughout the week to follow the Admirals’ progress.

 

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.