Greg Crain

Admirals down defending champs, welcome new GM

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Admirals capped off a big week with win over the defending league champs Sunday night.

The Admirals got two goals from Ty Moss and one goal each from Kyle Meloche and Broden Meloche in a 4-1 win over the defending PJHL Stobbs Division champion Lakeshore Canadiens Sunday night at the Libro Centre. Ben Larder made 30 saves in net for Amherstburg.

“It’s always nice to get a win like that at home,” said Admirals head coach Paul Bortignon. “I think everyone had a strong game. From start to finish, we got better each period.”

It was the first game in a week for the Admirals, with Bortignon very happy with their effort Sunday night.

“I thought we controlled most of the play in the third period,” he said. “We did a fantastic job. That was a big win for us.”

Bortignon said they have a big game Wednesday in Wallaceburg, noting that even though the Lakers are currently in last place, it is still a tough place to play. The Admirals then turn around and play first place Dresden on the road Friday night before hosting Wheatley Sunday.

“For us, it’s one game at a time,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals also made news late last week, announcing the Bortignon had stepped down as the team’s general manager. Greg Crain is the new GM, with Bortignon staying on as coach.

Bortignon, who recently got married, said “it was the right move at the right time” for him.

“Obviously the wedding and married life impacted the decision,” he said. “I recently started a new job as well.”

Bortignon said he wants to focus on the 23 players in the dressing room, noting that both roles was taxing on him.

“There is really no down time when you are both the head coach and general manager,” he said. “The season ends and then it’s right into recruiting and planning. I believe this move will enable me to refresh in the off-season and be eager to get back at it.”

Amherstburg’s Ty Moss celebrates a third period goal versus Lakeshore Dec. 2. The Admirals won 4-1.

The co-owners announced Crain as the new general manager via a press release last Friday.

“When Paul approached us for some help, we weren’t sure which direction we would go,” said co-owner Matt Fox. Fox said they originally looked at possibly beefing up their scouting and having co-owner Wes Ewer assist with the general manager’s duties.

Ewer had been the general manager prior to Bortignon.

However, Bortignon and Ewer would set up a meeting with Crain and the deal was put together.

“Greg brings a wealth of hockey knowledge and business experience to our team and we are excited for him to get started,” said co-owner Gaspare Spada.

Ewer said he knows Crain through both of their involvement with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA).

Max Clifford (25) gets a shot on Canadiens goalie Erik Morneau in the second period of Amherstburg’s 4-1 win at the Libro Centre Dec. 2.

“I’m excited,” said Ewer. “I think he’ll fit well with our staff.”

Ewer added they are happy to add another Amherstburg resident to the hockey operations.

“I love it when Amherstburg people can move the organization forward,” he said.

Crain, whose extensive hockey resume includes a stop with the then-Belle River Canadiens, said he is happy to be back in Jr. C.

“I’m really excited to be part of this team,” he said. “It’s great to get the first win for me.”

Crain’s priority is simple, as he said in the press release “we need to win.”

The Admirals are now 14-5-0-3, good for 31 points.

Local hockey coach and executive writes book on sport’s life lessons

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Greg Crain sees many ways where the sport of hockey can provide life lessons.

To illustrate his point, the Amherstburg resident has penned a new book entitled “Parallels of Life: The Game of Hockey.”

“What it is is my life in hockey,” Crain explained.

Crain’s days as a young player to working his way up the coaching ranks, including stops at the AAA, Jr. C and Jr. B levels, and now as the vice president of travel with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) are chronicled. However, he shares stories about his experiences and how they have shaped young athletes into becoming better people.

“The skills you learn in hockey are life skills,” he said. “That’s why they are the ‘parallels of life’.”

Being a good teammate can translate into an office or factory setting, Crain stated, as can competitive spirit.

“You learn how to compete. Hockey is a competition and life is a competition. You are always trying to better yourself,” he said.

Crain continued: “Practising hockey is like studying for school. If you practise well, it will show in a game. If you don’t study well, it’s not going to lead to a good test result.”

Greg Crain holds a draft copy of his book “Parallels of Life: The Game of Hockey” that is being released in December.

The book, which will be released Dec. 7, also features portions which focus on dealing with adversity. Hockey can also prepare people for the real world in other ways, he added.

“You learn from a coach and do what the coach tells you to do,” said Crain. “In life, you are going to have a boss you have to answer to.”

Hockey also teaches players on how to give back, and that translates into their lives going forward, he added. Volunteers give up nights and weekends to coach teams and do other things and sports are a way young people learn about how important it is to be involved in the community.

“You hope players learn the skills of volunteerism,” he said.

Many of his former players are now giving back, Crain stated.

“They’ve now learned to be coaches,” he said. “It’s come full circle in many ways.”

Crain also scouted for the OHL’s Barrie Colts but left scouting in 2002, between the births of his two sons Linden and Nolan. The boys now see him talking to former players and ask who they are, with Crain adding his role in AMHA also has him sharing experiences and advice. That led to him writing the book.

“Finally, I said I’m going to chronicle what I’ve done in hockey,” he said.

Crain spent over two years writing in a journal and dictating into his phone and ended up producing a 90,000-word book that is about 200 pages. He also goes over other facets of the game, from dealing with parents to his views on concussions and much more, and said he has received a lot of support in the close family of hockey. He is also working with the firm Client Solution Innovations to help him produce the book. It will be available through Amazon but more details still have to be ironed out before its December release.

“Hockey is so important to a community. It’s an awesome thing,” said Crain. “I think Amherstburg is an awesome community for hockey.”

While Crain has taught hockey skills, he hopes the life skills he tried to teach are still helping others. He said “hockey and life go down the same road” and that it is “crucial” to give back to the community.”

“I’m happy with (the book),” he said. “The support I’ve been getting is incredible.”

Many of his former players have written forwards for the book and Crain added that “it’s like we’re sitting on the bench again.”
For more information on “Parallels of Life: The Game of Hockey,” visit www.parallelsoflife.com.

AMHA hands out awards at travel hockey banquet

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) recognized and honoured some of its top performances and players from the 2017-18 season last week.

The travel hockey banquet was held at the Libro Centre last Tuesday night with teams from all age groups recognized. That included the OMHA champion juvenile team and the Bluewater league champion novice major team.

Julie Renaud (left) accepts the Adult Volunteer of the Year Award from AMHA travel convenor Jon Camilleri. For more photos from AMHA’s award banquet, check out our Facebook site.

“We are here to celebrate the season, have some fun, tell some stories and re-live some moments from the year,” said Greg Crain, vice president of travel with AMHA. “We are also here to acknowledge the volunteers for their hard work and dedication that made for a successful season.”

Crain said without the volunteers that coached, managed and acted as trainers, the season could not have happened.

“We need to stay focused on two items – we need to have mutual respect for all volunteers,” said Crain. “The second item is that it’s all about the players.”

Other highlights from 2017-18 included eight tournament wins across the association, seven tournament finals, three semi-final appearances as well as the OMHA and Bluewater titles.

Colleen Hawthorne, regional director with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA), said that “we, as volunteers, give a lot of ourselves to the game,” but noted players look up to the adults so she encouraged the adults to set the example and develop the love of the game in the players.

“Show them this is just a game,” she said.

Novice Major coach Jean Marc Mongeau presents the Bruno Casanova Award to Charlie Souchereau. AMHA held its travel hockey banquet last Tuesday night at the Libro Centre.

The AMHA held a moment of silence before the banquet and sold green ribbons in honour of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, who lost 16 individuals and had others injured, as a result of an April 6 bus accident involving a semi-truck. Town council had also paid tribute to the Broncos with a moment of silence before the April 9 meeting.

Award winners were:

NOVICE AE (Bruno Casanova Award – Outstanding effort throughout playing season) – Lucas D’Alimonte

NOVICE MAJOR  (Bruno Casanova Award – Outstanding effort throughout playing season) – Charlie Souchereau

 

ATOM MINOR (Kevin McDonough Award – Outstanding effort throughout playing season) – Jeremy Grimaldi

ATOM MAJOR (Kevin McDonough Award – Outstanding effort throughout playing season) – Payne Oltrop

 

PEE WEE MINOR (Mark Whitehead Award – Outstanding effort throughout playing season) – Logan Price

PEE WEE MAJOR (Mark Whitehead Award – Outstanding effort throughout playing season) – Jackson Cole

 

BANTAM MINOR (Danny Pietrangelo Award – Outstanding effort throughout playing season) – Colin Cote

BANTAM MAJOR (Bill Jones Award – Positive attitude and gives 100% effort in practices and games) – Gavin Soulliere

 

MIDGET MINOR (Jimmy Brooks Award – Outstanding Defensive Play throughout the playing season) – Luca Tonin

MIDGET MAJOR (Jimmy Brooks Award – Outstanding Defensive Play throughout the playing season) – Kyran Kelly

 

MIDGET MINOR (Michael Bastien Award – Outstanding Dedication to hockey throughout the playing season) – Justin Skov

MIDGET MAJOR (Randy Oakes Award – Outstanding Dedication to hockey throughout the playing season) – Dean DeLuca

AMHA vice president of travel Greg Crain (left) presents the travel coach of the year award to Dennis Emerson.

JUVENILE (Outstanding Dedication to hockey throughout playing season) – Colton McGregor

 

YOUTH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – Jacob Litster

 

ADULT VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – Julie Renaud

 

TRAVEL MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Cathy MacInnes

 

TRAVEL TRAINER OF THE YEAR – Kyle Goodchild

 

TRAVEL COACH OF THE YEAR – Dennis Emerson

University of Windsor coach tries to help other hockey coaches

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) offered a chance for some of their coaches to get some coaching tips thanks to the University of Windsor’s head coach.

Lancer coach Kevin Hamlin spoke to a group of about 25 travel coaches from AMHA at the Libro Centre and tried to impart some of the wisdom he has accumulated from his days as a university and pro player as well as from his coaching career. Hamlin’s coaching stops have included the Windsor Spitfires, Cornell University, Belle River Canadiens, Leamington Flyers, Sarnia Bees and St. Clair College as well as the Lancers.

“His credentials speak for themselves,” said AMHA travel vice president Greg Crain. “You are not going to get a better leader with more knowledge.”

Hamlin said coming out and talking with other coaches was something he enjoyed.

University of Windsor men’s hockey coach Kevin Hamlin addresses AMHA coaches during a recent talk at the Libro Centre.

“There are few places I’d rather be than be in a room with a bunch of coaches,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin encouraged the AMHA travel coaches to find something in his presentation they liked “and make it your own.

“You’re a role model,” he told the coaches. “Our athletes are watching us. We’re role models.”

Hamlin outlined his own background, recalling the day when his father enrolled him in hockey to when friend Brad Smith got him into coaching with the Spitfires. He told the coaches there are “four seasons of coaching” and the first one is the end of the season.

At the end of the season, coaches have to evaluate and critically analyze their program. Hamlin acknowledged that it isn’t easy, but “you have to. It’s about the kids we serve.”

Hamlin said that process not only helps make players better, but it actually helped him as a coach.

“It made me a better coach,” he said. “I used to hate it.”

The off-season was the second “season” of coaching, with team building being a part of that.

“The more you know each other, the more you’ll fight for each other,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin added that seasons is also when he recruits players, noting he recruits character first. He also encouraged coaches to find assistant coaches that can help with areas the head coaches may not be strong at so that they complement each other better.

The pre-season is the next stage and then it is the in-season portion of the coaches’ life. Hamlin said he spends about 15 minutes planning a practice, saying it is very important to plan for a good practice. He went over various hockey skills with the coaches and advised them on what drills can be used with players.

“Repetition is absolutely essential,” said Hamlin. “Make sure they got it before you move on.”

University of Windsor men’s hockey coach Kevin Hamlin (left) spoke with a group of AMHA travel coaches recently. AMHA vice president of travel Greg Crain (right) presents Hamlin with a plaque to thank him for his visit.

As for developing goalies, Hamlin encouraged coaches to not try and mold goalies into something they aren’t and said they can defer to a goalie coach for development at that position.

Most of all, Hamlin said he wants players and coaches to have fun.

Hamlin said he was asked to come by AMHA and said he enjoys speaking with coaches at the grassroots level. He indicated he would be willing to return if a request is made.

“This is the very least I can do,” he said. “They are doing tremendous work. They are making differences in the lives of young people. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here to do.”