Essex 73’s

Admirals drop two straight over the weekend



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals’ winning streak came to a stop on the weekend thanks to a pair of defeats to local rivals.

The Admirals (20-10-2-2, 44 points) had won seven straight heading into Friday night’s game in Lakeshore but lost a 6-4 decision to the Canadiens. Lakeshore jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on goals by Kyle Brothers, Jarrett Tazzman and Matt Smith before Travis Campbell and Caleb Paquette got the Admirals on the scoreboard before the first period was out.

Caleb Paquette (6, white jersey) drives to the net during third period action Jan. 5 at the Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore. Lakeshore defeated Amherstburg 6-4.

In the second period, Kyler Carter expanded Lakeshore’s lead to 4-2 but Cory Burns’ powerplay goal brought the Admirals back to within a goal. Steven Sartor’s powerplay goal of his own gave Lakeshore a 5-3 lead but a third period goal by Austin Jennings of the Admirals made it a 5-4 game.

Tazzman’s empty net goal rounded out the scoring.

“We let our guard down a couple of times and that was it,” said Admirals GM/head coach Paul Bortignon. “You can’t do that against good teams.”
Bortignon believed the Admirals “showed a lot of character in the third” but it just wasn’t their night.

“Some nights you are going to get the calls and we didn’t get the calls,” he added.

There was a flu bug that hit the Admirals Friday night, Bortignon added, but he was proud of the way they competed that night. Two nights later, though, the Admirals had a game that Bortignon called “a wake-up call” as they were thumped 5-0 by the Essex 73’s at the Libro Centre.

“I just think we had no jump,” Bortignon said after Sunday night’s game. “Flat out, we didn’t have it tonight. We were chasing the puck all night. We were chasing them all night.”

The Admirals weren’t prepared to play while the 73’s were, he believed.

Admirals forward Travis Campbell (19) knocks Essex’s Luke Gecse to the ice during the first period of their Jan. 7 game at the Libro Centre. Campbell was assessed a penalty on the play. Essex won the game 5-0.

“We were beaten by the better team tonight,” he said. “They took advantage of all of our mistakes. The score was indicative of that. They dominated for two periods and coasted in the third.”

Riley Meyerink and Anthony Cristofaro had first period goals for the 73’s while William Stadder, Quinn Fazekas and Luke Gecse had third period goals for Essex.

Bortignon said the players have to put Sunday’s game behind them quickly while the staff has to watch the game again and point out their mistakes and correct them in this week’s practices.

Jared Ratko, the team’s new backup goalie, came on in relief in both games and Bortignon said his efforts were a bright spot on the weekend. Newcomer Dylan Kolic also debuted Sunday night against Essex after being signed recently.

“We’re excited to have them for the stretch run,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals – who are battling Essex, Lakeshore, Dresden and Mooretown in a tight battle for the top spots in the PJHL Stobbs Division – don’t play again until Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they play the Flags in Mooretown. Their next home game is Sunday at 7 p.m. when the Petrolia Flyers come to the Libro Centre.

Admirals keep rolling with wins over Essex and Lakeshore



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals’ hot streak continues after a pair of big wins over the weekend.

The Admirals have now won ten out of their last 11 games after beating Lakeshore 6-3 Sunday night and Essex 3-2 Saturday night. The three Essex County-based teams are battling for first place in the PJHL’s Stobbs Division with the Admirals being able to join that mix due to their recent hot streak.

Caleb Paquette led the way for the Admirals Sunday versus Lakeshore, as he scored four of Amherstburg’s six goals.

Caleb Paquette scores one of his four goals Sunday night versus Lakeshore.

“I’ve honestly never scored four goals in a junior hockey game,” said Paquette. “Lakeshore is number one (in the division) so that definitely makes it feel special.”

Paquette said the rest of the team also feels good after picking up that win as well as the win over the 73’s the previous night. He pointed out that he felt good coming into Sunday night’s game with the Canadiens.

“I actually said to Cory Burns that I was going to score,” said Paquette.

The Admirals maintained a good work ethic during both games, he added, and kept the pressure on both the 73’s and Canadiens.

“They are very good teams but we worked harder and came up with the wins,” he said.

Paquette added the Admirals go into the Christmas break with some confidence and believes if they keep working hard, they can continue to play well when they resume their schedule Dec. 27.

Ryan Alexander and Burns also scored against Lakeshore.

Burns also scored a pair against Essex Saturday night, including the game winning goal with just 1:14 to play in the third period. The 73’s led 2-1 going into the third period but Amherstburg scored twice in the final 20 minutes to pull out the victory.

Paquette added the other goal against the 73’s. Ben Larder picked up the wins in goal in both weekend games.

“We talked about this weekend for a while,” said Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon.

Bortignon said they talked about getting all four points if they worked for 60 minutes in both games, and that is what happened.

“Those two wins, those are on those guys,” he said of the players. “They were incredible from the goalie all the way out.”

Bortignon also used the word “incredible” to describe the play of the line of Burns, Paquette and Josh Talerico over the weekend. Their play is among the best Bortignon said they have seen in the current hockey staff’s four years with the team.

Cory Burns scores against Lakeshore Sunday night.

The Admirals knew they would have to get rolling to dig themselves out of an early season hole but the current hot streak is above even their expectations, he believed.

“It shows the character of our team,” said Bortignon.

The attitude of the team has changed, and that started with a 4-0 loss to Mooretown at home Nov. 12. They had a team meeting after that game and have played well since.

“The energy since that loss has been incredible,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals thanked the fans for their support over the weekend and wish the town a Merry Christmas. Their next two games are both at home as Dresden comes to town Dec. 27 and Wallaceburg is in Amherstburg Dec. 29. Both games are at 7 p.m.

Admirals get big win over Essex 73’s



By Ron Giofu


Two rivals squared off Sunday night at the Libro Centre in PJHL Stobbs Division hockey action with Amherstburg coming out on top.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals knocked off the Essex 73’s 3-2 in overtime with Ryan Alexander slipping the puck past Essex goaltender Tyler Ryan 2:02 into the extra period.

Amherstburg’s Ryan Alexander (16) scores the game winning goal on Essex goalie Tyler Ryan Sunday night. The Admirals won 3-2 in overtime.

The Admirals never trailed in Sunday’s game. After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for four goals in the second period. Dylan Muzzatti scored on the powerplay to give Amherstburg a 1-0 lead 2:22 into the second period. Essex’s William Stadder tied it exactly 12 minutes later but David Cooke scored on his former team just over a minute later to restore Amherstburg’s lead.

Essex tied it with under one minute left in the second period on a goal from Adam Gaiarin.

The Amherstburg Admirals celebrate their 3-2 overtime win over the Essex 73’s Oct. 22.

The teams were scoreless in the third period.

“It’s a big win,” said Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “It’s a big confidence building win for us.”

Bortignon said the Admirals (4-5-2-1, 11 points) are getting healthy and he said they had a good week of practice.

“It paid off tonight,” he said.

It “starts and ends with the back end” for the Admirals, said Bortignon, and the team was bolstered by the return of defenseman Dean Patterson. Patterson rejoined the team Sunday night and “is a huge addition for us,” Bortignon noted.

“He’s a guy who adds instant leadership. He was a big part of our win tonight.”

Goaltender Ben Larder stopped 29 of 31 Essex shots and Bortignon said Larder was outstanding against the 73’s.

Ryan Holzel (14, left) gets a scoring chance on Essex goalie Tyler Ryan.

“With the addition of Patterson and the goaltending stepping up, it’s huge for us,” said Bortignon.

Amilio Acampora and Caleb Paquette returned from injury and injected speed into the lineup as well. Bortignon said they’ve played a lot of the year thus far with only ten forwards due to injury.

“It’s nice to be healthy and nice to be able to put four lines out there on a consistent basis,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals will only have one practice this week as they play in Blenheim Thursday, are at Mooretown Saturday before returning home this Sunday for a game against Wheatley.

“Those are teams who have knocked us off the first time we played them,” said Bortignon. “We need to take the same mentality (as they had against Essex) in those games and if we do, we have a chance to get close to six points if not all six.”

Bortignon added the crowd against Essex was strong and that the Admirals appreciate the support from the community.

“Hopefully they enjoyed the result,” he said.

Admirals defeat Essex, lose to Wheatley



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals split the first two games of their four-game road trip over the past week.

The Admirals’ most recent game was Monday night where they were defeated 4-1 by the Wheatley Sharks.

After the teams played to a scoreless first period, the Admirals hit the scoreboard first thanks to a goal from Josh Talerico just over a minute into the second period. Justin Pinsonneault scored a powerplay goal for Wheatley with just under four minutes remaining in the middle frame to send it to the third period tied at one.

The Sharks sent their fans home happy with three goals in the third period, all unassisted. Carter Mastronardi, Parker Boyle and Ryan Zsebok scored for Wheatley, giving them the victory.

Catalin Morin stopped 27 of 31 shots in the Amherstburg net Monday night.

Amherstburg goalie Ben Larder makes a first period save last Tuesday night. The Admirals defeated the Essex 73’s 3-2.

The Admirals started the week last Tuesday night (Oct. 3) in Essex, where they snapped a streak of five games without a win by downing the 73’s 3-2.

Essex’s William Stadder scored a powerplay goal in the first period but Ryan Alexander tied it for Amherstburg in the second period. Brett Smith scored another powerplay goal for the 73’s early in the third period but Talerico and Bryce McGregor scored within a four-minute span of each other midway through the final frame to give the Admirals the victory.

Ben Larder stopped 27 of 29 shots for Amherstburg.

“I think they stayed composed,” Admirals coach/GM Paul Bortignon said after the game.

Bortignon acknowledged they had a “rough go” heading into the game, noting a 5-2 loss to the Dresden Kings Sept. 29 but said they played better against Lakeshore Oct. 1 and that continued in Essex.

“I think we could have fallen apart in the third after the 2-1 goal,” said Bortignon. “Larder was fantastic again tonight.”

Admirals’ captain Dylan Muzzatti carries the puck through the neutral zone during Amherstburg’s 3-2 win in Essex last Tuesday night.

A number of other players also played well, with Bortignon adding they played with ten forwards against Essex.

“That’s a testament to the guys in the room,” he said. “We found a way to get the two points here tonight.”

Amherstburg (2-4-1-1, six points) concludes their four-game road trip this week before returning home to the Libro Centre Sunday night. The Admirals are in Petrolia Thursday and Dresden Friday for a pair of 7:30 p.m. games before welcoming the Kings to Amherstburg Sunday for a 7 p.m. game.

Admirals gearing up for 2017-18 PJHL season



By Ron Giofu


There will be some familiar faces returning to the Amherstburg Integrity Admirals lineup this upcoming Jr. C season with some new faces also hoping to push the team over the top.

The Admirals played the Essex 73’s to a 1-1 tie Sunday night in the first pre-season games for both PJHL Stobbs Division clubs, with the Admirals having a weekend full of practices and scrimmages as the coaches and management take a closer look at who might be taking the ice for them when the regular season starts Sept. 17.

“Overall, I thought it was a good weekend,” said Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “There were a lot of young guys trying to make an impact. I thought the guys did a good job.”

Amherstburg’s Zack Yott (11) tries a wrap-around on Essex goalie Ryan Polidori Sunday night.

Amherstburg’s Zack Yott (11) tries a wrap-around on Essex goalie Ryan Polidori Sunday night.

Bortignon said there are about four or five spots up for grabs on this years team and envisions “good competition” over the next two weeks before the roster is shaved to the 23 player limit in time for the Sept. 17 season opener against Petrolia at the Libro Centre.

Goaltending could be a strength this year as the Admirals have landed Ben Larder – a three-year starter from Tavistock – to their crease to join incumbent Catalin Morin.

“Up front, we do return a lot of veteran players,” said Bortignon. “We’ve got a lot of good depth up front.”

Amherstburg acquired forward Kadin Ritchie from Dresden over the off-season with Ritchie scoring 11 goals and six assists last season for the Jr. Kings.

“We’re definitely excited to have him, that’s for sure,” said Bortignon.

Ritchie played with the Wallaceburg Lakers during the 2015-16 season.

“Our defensive core is going to be a bit younger,” Bortignon added.

The Admirals are looking forward to the 2017-18 season, Bortignon stated. Last season ended when they lost in four straight games to the 73’s in the PJHL Stobbs Division semi-finals and the Admirals are putting that behind them.

“As a group, we’re excited to get going,” said Bortignon.

Josh Talerico (15, left) carries the puck in the corner during second period action.

Josh Talerico (15, left) carries the puck in the corner during second period action.

Co-owner/assistant coach Matt Fox said the team’s annual golf tournament is Sept. 10 at Sutton Creek Golf Club and people looking to sign up or those who want more information invited to contact Mary Ewer at

Fox agreed they are looking forward to the start of the regular season.

“We’re looking forward to another big year,” he said.

The second pre-season game is at the Libro Centre tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. versus the Lakeshore Canadiens. There will also be a volunteer information session Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. prior to the game against Lakeshore. Co-owner Wes Ewer said they will go over roles the team is looking for and the benefits of helping us out. Season tickets will also be sold at the game from 6-7:30 p.m.