Dennis Emerson

Amherstburg Stars juvenile team advance to OMHA finals


By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Stars juvenile hockey team is one step closer to a provincial title.

The Stars advanced to the OMHA finals thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Woolwich Wildcats Friday night at the Libro Centre. The win meant the Stars captured the OMHA semi-final series six points to none as Amherstburg won twice in Woolwich the previous weekend.

The Amherstburg Stars juvenile team celebrates after their 2-1 over the Woolwich Wildcats March 9 at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg wo the series six points to none and advanced to the OMHA finals.

After Mathieu Fife opened the scoring for Woolwich early in the first period, the Stars rallied to tie the game on a goal by Garret Blunt later in the period. The teams played a scoreless second period before Jack Hubbell’s powerplay goal midway through the third period put the Stars ahead to stay.

“We feel great about it,” said Stars head coach Dennis Emerson. “We’re excited.”

Emerson said the Stars have been playing well for a few months now.

“We’ve been on a roll since Christmas,” he said. “The kids are all buying in to what we’re trying to do. We’re playing as a team.”

Blunt said the team is happy to make the finals and have no preference as to who they play.

“We’ll take on anyone,” he said.

Amherstburg’s Jake Topliffe (5) tries a wraparound on Woolwich goalie Connor Duench during the third period of last Friday night’s OMHA semi-final game at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg won 2-1.

The juvenile Stars is still a relatively young program in Amherstburg and Blunt said they are putting it on the map quickly. Blunt noted juvenile-aged players no longer have to travel to Harrow to continue their hockey careers.

“It feels really good,” he said, about advancing to the OMHA finals. “It shows the juvenile team means business in Amherstburg.”

Blunt said they wanted to “exploit” the Woolwich goalie and get shots low, look for rebounds “and that’s what we did.”

“It’s good to be playing here,” he added. “It wasn’t like that a couple of years ago. It’s good to have a team.”

Stars’ juvenile team two points away from OMHA final berth


The Amherstburg Juvenile Stars travelled up the 401 this past weekend to kick off their OMHA Semi-Final series against the Woolwich Wildcats.  The Stars came out flying in game one of the series Saturday afternoon winning the opener 4-1.  Stars goals were scored by Jack Hubbell, Brandon Farhringer, Ernie Godden Jr. and Joe Goulawski.

The game was a busy one for Stars trainer Chad Mailloux with lots of bumps and bruises along the way.  The stars left no doubt in the game and Chris Mitre followed suit in net closing the door to the Wildcat offense.

Head coach Dennis Emerson was pleased with the opener.

“I thought overall we had a solid start to the series and getting two points in game one on the road was huge for us. It should take away some of the pressure on the team going into game two tomorrow,” added Emerson.

The Stars were back underway Sunday afternoon, in what shaped up to be the better of the two performances for the weekend.   Chris Mitre got the start in net again and Emerson said it wasn’t an easy decision.

“We decided to go back with Chris in Game 2 and he certainly helped close the door and allow the team a great chance to win,” Emerson said.

Jack Hubbell opened up the scoring for the stars and that, and a Wildcat goal  is all there would be in regulation.  Tied and in overtime, Brandon Farhringer sent the Stars back home up four points to zero in their OMHA Semi Final match with a 2-1 OT victory.  This same Woolwich team has won back to back OMHA Finals the past two seasons and are heading to Amherstburg next weekend with their backs against the wall.

“Coming home with four points and having three home games in a row, I like the position our team put themselves in,” said Emerson.  “We have really been playing well since the Christmas break.  I really like the players we have and the way they are working together,” he added.

Emerson noted that the team saw a few players driving home between games to write university exams and is really happy with the commitment level he is seeing.

The Stars will host the Wildcats Friday night at 9:10 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.  (the latter two games only if needed). All games  will be played at the Libro Centre.

Admirals boasting abundance of local talent on this year’s team



By Ron Giofu


When the Amherstburg Integrity Admirals hit the ice this season, they will be doing so with a lot of locally trained hockey players.

The bulk of the Admirals’ 23-player roster is made of locally developed talent with the local content also included in the team’s ownership and management.

“I’m pumped for the outlook of our team this season, probably more than I’ve been in the four years I’ve been here,” said co-owner Wes Ewer. “I’m pumped about the amount of Amherstburg talent we have in all aspects of the organization.”

Ewer pointed out that 13 of the 23 players are from Amherstburg, three coaches are from Amherstburg and three of the four support and training staff are from Amherstburg. The ownership group of the Admirals also features two local people – Ewer and Matt Fox. Fox is also an assistant coach.

Local players include Kyle Meloche, Zack Yott, Cory Burns, Austin Jennings, Ryan Holzel, Cole Welsh, Luc Warnock, Jack Hubbell, Bryce McGregor, Catalin Morin, Mike Lenson, Brock Beaudoin and Reid Stieler.

“I would challenge anyone to find me a team in the PJHL that has as many people from its town involved in all areas and be a strong team,” said Ewer. “We are very, very proud we have local talent spread out in all areas of the organization. We are going to put a lot of familiar faces on the ice.”

The Amherstburg Integrity Admirals will hit the ice for the 2017-18 PJHL Stobbs Division season with a healthy dose of local talent among their ranks. The Amherstburg executives, coaches and players include (back row, from left): From Left to right (Standing)- Wes Ewer (owner), Zack Yott (#17), Cory Burns (#9), Austin Jennings (#10), Ryan Holzel (#14), Cole Welsh (#4), Luc Warnock (#27), Jack Hubbell (#2), Bryce McGregor (#18), Rob Bondy (assistant coach), Paul Bortignon (general manager/head coach). Front row (from left): Matt Fox (owner/assistant coach), Catalin Morin (#33), Mike Lenson (#8), Brock Beaudoin (#11), Reid Stieler (#7). Not pictured: Kyle Meloche (#12), Grant Wood (room manager), Stu Bertram (assistant trainer), Bryan Hayes (prevention services), Scott Riddell (assistant trainer), B.J. Wiley (assistant trainer).

The Admirals praised the work of the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) for its role in developing the local talent.

“You can’t say enough about AMHA,” said Ewer. “They make it easy for us.”

The coaches are confident about the players they are utilizing, Ewer added, and that those players can be used in all situations.

“We know what (AMHA) is doing and they are doing it right,” he said.

Ewer pointed out Glen Holden and Dennis Emerson, coaches of the Amherstburg Stars midget major and juvenile teams respectively, deserve credit for developing players in their final years of minor hockey.

“We’re going to be in a good position because of the good coaching they are doing with their teams,” he said.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon said the level of hockey talent that is developed in Amherstburg is something the Jr. C club can’t turn away from. He said the number of Amherstburg players on the Admirals is due to their abilities rather than simply the team trying to accumulate as many local players as possible.

“I don’t think we’d take Amherstburg kids on the ice if it hindered our hopes for winning a championship,” said Bortignon.

Bortignon believed that winning a championship with so many local players and coaches could be “the first of its kind” in Jr. C.

Fox said AMHA has produced strong hockey players over the years and that trend is continuing. He said with the Admirals now in town, local players have been choosing to stay home to further their careers at the junior level.

“There are teams that are winning in this league that are doing it on the backs of Amherstburg kids,” said Fox.

Ewer added that although they are excited about the number of Amherstburg players in the lineup, they are equally excited about the other players from outside of town they have acquired as well. The Admirals open the regular season Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Libro Centre against the Petrolia Flyers.

Stars juvenile team season ends with home ice loss in OMHA semi-finals



By Ron Giofu


For a team that was struggling attracting players early in the season, the Amherstburg Stars juvenile hockey team managed to get to the OMHA semi-final.

The Stars lost 3-2 Monday night to the New Hamburg Huskies, a loss which ended their season. New Hamburg won the six-point series 7-5.

Ernie Godden gave the Stars a 1-0 lead in the first but the Huskies tied it before the period was out and took the lead early in the third period. Godden tied it with a shorthanded goal with just over five minutes left in the third period but New Hamburg scored the winning goal on the powerplay during the same penalty.

“I think, at the end of the day, we gave ourselves a chance to win,” said assistant coach Blaine Bechard. “It sucks we didn’t get the win.”

Bechard said the program excelled as the season went on, noting they had roughly ten players near the start of the season but picked up more players as the season went on.

“I think it was a pretty successful year,” he said.

Amherstburg’s Kyle Meloche (12) gets a scoring chance on New Hamburg goalie Eric Munro during action in the sixth game of the OMHA semi-final series Monday night in Amherstburg. New Hamburg won the game 3-2 to win the six-point series seven points to five.

Amherstburg’s Kyle Meloche (12) gets a scoring chance on New Hamburg goalie Eric Munro during action in the sixth game of the OMHA semi-final series Monday night in Amherstburg. New Hamburg won the game 3-2 to win the six-point series seven points to five.

The Stars thought they had a chance after the shorthanded goal but the powerplay goal by the Huskies proved to be the difference, he added.

The Stars juvenile team picked up three of a possible four points on the weekend at the Libro Centre before heading to New Hamburg Sunday afternoon where they lost 7-0. That loss was partially due to unusual circumstances, however.

Assistant coach Wes Ewer said it was “one of the most fun losses I have ever been a part of. Due to an engineering mid-term and a case of mono we did not have an eligible goalie for (Sunday) so we had one of our veteran players step up and volunteer to play net.”

Despite the fact he is not their regular goalie, Ewer said Erik Vandenham “made some huge saves in the game.”

Ewer added: “The way our team handled the situation is nothing short of outstanding. They were able to keep everything in perspective,  and made the best of day together.”

In the series’ third game Friday night, the Stars settled for a 4-4 tie with New Hamburg and beat the Huskies 2-0 Saturday afternoon behind a shutout from Jack Langlois and goals from Zac Garvey and Ernie Godden.

“They’ve been playing really hard,” said Stars head coach Dennis Emerson after Saturday afternoon’s game.

Amherstburg's Jared Benninger (right) checks Mitch Schurink during March 4 action at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg.

Amherstburg’s Jared Benninger (right) checks Mitch Schurink during March 4 action at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg.

Emerson said they played well Friday night and had a 4-1 lead at one point but let New Hamburg back in the game. Garret Blunt scored twice in that game for Amherstburg with Jack Hubbell and Colton McGregor adding the others.

“The boys have been battling hard,” he said.

Injured players are regaining their health and coming back into the lineup, he added. They have been working hard and playing well defensively during the season and Emerson wanted a rested bunch for Sunday’s game in New Hamburg.

“The guys have bought into our system,” Emerson said of this season’s success.

Juvenile Stars split weekend road games


Special to the RTT

This past weekend the Amherstburg Stars Juvenile team headed up the 401 to kick off their OMHA Semi-Final match up with the New Hamburg Huskies.

Game 1 Friday night saw both teams feeling each other out for most of the early portion of the game. After two periods of the play the game was tied 0-0. The score remained tied until late in the 3rd period when the Stars capitalized on the power play.

Ernie Godden ripped a shot from the hash marks to put the stars up 1-0. That turned out to be all that was needed. Godden would go on to seal the deal for the stars with an empty net goal. Chris Mitri kept the door shut for Amherstburg between the pipes and recorded the shutout.

Captain Garret Blunt gets a shot off late in Game 2 of the OMHA Semi Finals.  The Amherstburg Stars juvenile team is taking on the New Hamburg Huskies.

Captain Garret Blunt gets a shot off late in Game 2 of the OMHA Semi Finals. The Amherstburg Stars juvenile team is taking on the New Hamburg Huskies.

Game 2 was played Sunday afternoon and the Stars, due to some questionable calls in the first game, were short a couple players.

The game was back and forth with both teams trading chances for the most of the first period. After the first the game was tied at 1-1 with Reid Thrasher putting one home from the point for the Stars. Unfortunately that is all the offense the Stars could muster for this game.

They had chances late in the game to tie it up but couldn’t find the back of the net. When asked his thoughts on the weekend, head coach Dennis Emerson said, “We did what we needed to do and got the one win on the road. We would have loved to be coming home with two wins but if we do our job and win our home games we can wrap this thing up this weekend..”

The Stars return home to the Libro Centre this weekend to take on the same New Hamburg team and try and advance to the OMAH Finals. Games are this Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Libro Centre. Come out and support some great local hockey action.