Garret Blunt

Amherstburg Stars juvenile team captures OMHA title



By Ron Giofu


Sunday was “Red Hat Day” at the Libro Centre for the Amherstburg Stars juvenile team.

The Stars defeated King Rebellion 3-2 for the second straight day to win the six-point OMHA final series six points to two. By winning the OMHA championship, the Stars got to wear the symbolic red baseball caps that go along with it.

The Stars won 3-2 Saturday night after building a 3-0 lead after two periods on goals by Garret Blunt, Jack Hubbell and Joe Goulawski. In Sunday’s game, they led 2-0 in the second period and 3-1 midway through the third only to have King Rebellion shave the lead to one goal each time but the Stars hung on to win that game and the OMHA title.

Brandon Fahringer scored twice for Amherstburg in Sunday’s game with Jake Topliffe adding the other goal.

The Amherstburg Stars juvenile team celebrate after winning the OMHA title Sunday afternoon at the Libro Centre. The Stars defeated King Rebellion 3-2 Sunday and also won by that same score Saturday night. Amherstburg won the series six points to two.

“It feels awesome,” said head coach Dennis Emerson. “We hope to build on this next year.”
Emerson said it was only the second year for the relaunched juvenile program, with the Stars having made it to the OMHA semi-final last year. He said many players joined this year with the goal being an OMHA title.

“This was our goal right from the beginning,” said Emerson.

Emerson credited a strong midget program for the quick success of the juvenile team. He said they weren’t phased by losing the first game of the series to King Rebellion last weekend, saying they had “road legs” and had a couple of bounces go against them. Noting they lost the first game in other series, Emerson said he knew they could battle back.

Blunt, the team’s captain, agreed as he pointed out they came back to win series against Erie North Shore and Belle River after losing the first game.

“It was a familiar spot, having to win three straight,” he said.

Blunt was one of the happy Stars’ players taking a turn with the trophy on the ice.

“It feels good,” he said. “I knew we could do it. It was a little closer than we wanted but we did it.”

Captains with the Amherstburg Stars juvenile team accept the OMHA championship trophy March 25 at the Libro Centre following their 3-2 win over King Rebellion.

It was the team’s goal from the start of the year, Blunt agreed.

“We had the right group of guys,” he said.

Goalie Chris Mitre said winning the OMHA title was “unbelievable for sure” and noted they bounced back after a tough start to the season. Mitre said “the boys started rolling” and when they began to find their game, he knew they would be tough to beat.

“We battled through and we did it,” said Mitre.

The Stars will now advance to the OHF juvenile championship tournament, to be held in early April. The Quinte West Minor Hockey Association will be the hosts.

Stars, Rebellion trade wins in the opening weekend of the OMHA Finals


Special to the RTT


The last team left in minor hockey pressing for an OMHA Championship was in action again this weekend as the Amherstburg Juvenile Stars faced off against the King Rebellion in Games 1 and 2 of the OMHA Finals.

Game 1 went Saturday afternoon and saw an injury-riddled Stars team come out and weather the storm for the first 30 minutes of the game but it was the Rebellion who opened the scoring at the 6:25 minute mark of the second period.  The Stars got on the board and tied the game at the 2:08 mark of the second period on the strength of an Ernie Godden Jr. goal but the tie was short lived and the Stars could not hold off a surging Rebellion offense who jumped back in to the lead just a short 27 seconds later.

The Stars would gain some confidence heading into the last frame as Brandon Fahringer tied the game at two late in the second period.  That, however, was the most the Stars offense would be able to muster on this day.

Giving up two goals in the third period, the Stars dropped the opener 4-2. Stars goaltender Jack Langlois had a great performance in net but coach Dennis Emerson thought the team left a little to be desired.

“I thought we came out fast and matched King’s intensity but we just couldn’t get that full game effort,” said Emerson. “I don’t think we did a great job of making things easier on Jack in net.”

When asked if the Stars third period lapse is concerning, Emerson rejected the notion.

“These players know exactly what it takes to win a Red Hat (OMHA Championship), we have several players who already have one; I know they’ll come out flying tomorrow and I’m certain you will see a different result.”

Some St. Patrick’s day “luck of the Irish” must have fallen on the side of the Stars as it seemed coach Emerson’s proclamation after game one was coming true in Game 2.

After coming out of the penalty box Stars’ forward Joe Goulawski opened the scoring for Amherstburg at the 5:24 mark of the first period, leaving no doubt on his breakaway.  Goulawski would keep the Stars offense going early in the second period pushing the Stars to a 2-0 lead at the 10:45 mark.

With a resilient effort and top notch special teams, the Stars’ Mike Lenson added the back-breaking goal with only 2:32 left in the third period to shut out the Rebellion 3-0 in Game 2 of the OMHA Finals. Chris Mitre picked up the win in net and was a key contributor to the overall team success.

“Chris was great in net,” said a smiling Coach Emerson. “Our special teams, our goaltending, it was all great. The boys really showed a lot of character in today’s game.”

In a game that saw the Stars penalized almost three times as much as the home team, the special teams really were the difference maker.

“We were up 2-0 early in the third on the PK and we had guys diving in front of shots and working extra hard on the back check. We knew on the bench that if we could press to make it 3-0 and not give them any hope, we could pull this off,” said Stars forward Garret Blunt. “I really like the momentum we built up this weekend heading into next weekend at home.”

The Stars are back in action this weekend at the Libro Centre hosting the same Rebellion team on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. There is no charge to get into the games. Come support your local Juvenile Stars on their quest for the Red Hat.


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.”

Midget Majors even OMHA finals 2-2


 Special to the RTT

The Amherstburg Midget Majors come into the weekend in a deep hole in their series with the defending OMHA Champions from Quinte West, as they lost games one and two in Trenton the previous weekend.

In front of two huge crowds, Saturday and Sunday at the Libro Centre, the Midget Majors evened their OMHA final series at two games apiece with a 4-3 OT win Saturday night and a tight 2-1 win on Sunday.

In Saturday’s game, the Midget Majors came out gunning, as Joey Bouzide would open the scoring with a laser from just inside the blue line with the help of Kyle Meloche. In what would turn out to be a wild first period, Amherstburg ended the first period down 3-2. Goal number two came off the stick of Jake Topliffe from Jarrod Benninger and Ernie Godden.

The score would remain 3-2 for Quinte West well into the third period before Garret Blunt would tie the game on a rebound with assists coming from Bouzide and Meloche. Each team would have glorious opportunities to end the game late but both goalies stood on their head.

The score remained tied 3-3 at the end of the third period and Amherstburg rose to the challenge as overtime started. They were rewarded two minutes in on a strong fore-check from Zack Yott and Meloche, who fed captain Blunt in the slot and he finished to send the Stars and the large hometown crowd into a frenzy.

The Amherstburg Stars midget major hockey team celebrate captain Garret Blunt's overtime goal Saturday night. The Stars pulled even with the Quinte West Hawks with a crucial Game 5 scheduled in Trenton this Saturday.

The Amherstburg Stars midget major hockey team celebrate captain Garret Blunt’s overtime goal Saturday night. The Stars pulled even with the Quinte West Hawks with a crucial Game 5 scheduled in Trenton this Saturday.

In Sunday’s game, each team came out a little tentative. Quinte West would capitalize on a faceoff win to score the game’s first goal half way through the first period. In a tight checking affair, the Midget Majors would even the score at one with a second period goal from Topliffe. The teams would continue the tight checking affair and enter the third period tied at one. The Midget Majors saved their best hockey for period number 3, as Blunt would score the game-winning goal for the second straight game with 13 minutes remaining. The Stars would close out the game with a solid defensive team effort and several key saves from Dershahn Stewart to secure the 2-1 win.

The win evens the OMHA final series at two games apiece, with the deciding Game 5 scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Trenton.

The Midget Majors would like to thank their loyal fans for the tremendous support on the weekend. A special shout out to Mayor DiCarlo for his participation in opening ceremonies and a special thank you to Emma MacVoy for singing the national anthem both games.

The Amherstburg Midget Majors would also like to congratulate the Bantam Minor Stars for bringing home the OMHA title on Sunday. Great job Stars!

Bulldogs capture WECSSAA hockey title with win over Belle River



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Bulldogs boys hockey team are WECSSAA A/AA champions after overcoming adversity against the Belle River Nobles.

The Bulldogs overcame adversity in the series and in the decisive third game but won both, including taking Game 3 by a 2-0 final score.

The General Amherst Bulldogs celebrate their WECSSAA A/AA hockey title Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre. Amherst won 2-0 in the third and decisive game.

The General Amherst Bulldogs celebrate their WECSSAA A/AA hockey title Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre. Amherst won 2-0 in the third and decisive game.

The Bulldogs got down in a hole early in the series as they dropped Game 1 on home ice Tuesday afternoon, a 4-3 double overtime defeat.

Bailey Bell scored the winner for the Nobles with General Amherst getting two goals from Zach Yott and another by Brock Beaudoin. It was originally thought by the coaches last week they would be without Beaudoin due to an injury but he was able to return.

The Bulldogs rebounded in Game 2 at the Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore Wednesday afternoon with a 2-1 victory. Garret Blunt and Yott scored in that game for General Amherst.

The third game of the best-of-three finals was at the Libro Centre Thursday afternoon. The two teams were scoreless through one period but the Bulldogs got a goal in each of the last two periods to get the win Jarrod Benninger rifled home a shot midway through the second period with Beaudoin adding an insurance goal in the third.

Bulldogs’ forward Justin Veldhuis had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher early in the second period after being checked hard into the boards. He suffered a broken clavicle on the play.

Josh Paquette picked up the shutout in goal for the Bulldogs in Game 3.

The win was the first WECSSAA title for the Bulldogs since the 2009-10 season.

“Losing the first game was a tough pill to swallow,” said Amherst head coach Pat Garrett. “I thought we played well enough in the first game to win.”

The second game was a great one, Garrett added.

“Both teams played 100 per cent. It could have went either way,” he said. “It was one of those games where it was sad to see either team lose.”

General Amherst's Owen Coughlin (15, left) fights off a Belle River Nobles' defender as he enters the Belle River zone Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre.

General Amherst’s Owen Coughlin (15, left) fights off a Belle River Nobles’ defender as he enters the Belle River zone Feb. 25 at the Libro Centre.

Losing Veldhuis in Game 3 was tough but the Bulldogs were able to step up and pull out the win.

“I’m so happy for this group of kids,” Garrett said.

Garrett said this might be the best team he has had since the 2008-09 season, a year where they also won WECSSAA. The Bulldogs made it to OFSAA that year.

“They are a really good group,” said Garrett.

Garrett also paid tribute to their opponents, stating that Belle River has a great hockey program they respect.

Blunt, the Amherst captain, said it was a team effort.

“It feels great,” he said of the WECSSAA championship. “It was an effort by all 18 guys.”

Winning the WECSSAA title was one of their goals and Blunt said it feels awesome to accomplish it. They were able to overcome Veldhuis’ loss though he was with them in spirit all game.

“We knew we had to win it for him,” said Blunt. “We did it for him.”

Blunt said Veldhuis told him before he left via ambulance to win the title.

The loss in Game 1 was their first since the opening game of the regular season, he added.

“Every great team loses games,” said Blunt, adding they tried to overcome every obstacle that was placed in front of them.

General Amherst hosts the SWOSSAA A/AA final Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. against Lambton-Kent Cardinals. Blunt said the Bulldogs will celebrate their WECSSAA title but quickly refocus on SWOSSAA.