Special Olympics hockey game sees police battle General Amherst



By Ron Giofu


Special Olympics Ontario will benefit from a charity hockey game that was held at the Libro Centre before the holidays.

General Amherst High School’s boys hockey team faced off against the Amherstburg Police Service team, though the latter contained officers from other departments as well as family members and supporters. The police team also featured the services of Amherstburg Admirals’ co-owner Wes Ewer and General Amherst principal Melissa DeBruyne.

Mike Cox, the long-time Amherstburg police officer who was also a major part in Special Olympics fundraising over the years, said with the exception of about a three or four year period after the former AMA Arena closed and the Libro Centre opened, the game has been going on for “as long as I can remember.”

The Amherstburg police team and the General Amherst boys hockey team gather for a group photo following their charity hockey game for Special Olympics Dec. 21.

Over the past number of decades, the police played the fire department, the Admirals, General Amherst and even the Detroit Red Wings alumni. He thanked his colleagues for helping out and taking over much of his former duties in organizing Special Olympics fundraisers including Nick D’Amore, Don Brown and Melissa Taylor.

One of the fond memories Cox had included the year two-time Olympic gold medalist Meghan Agosta played for the high school team.

“It’s not often you get to skate with someone who has a couple of gold medals,” said Cox. “She’s such a good person, just a fantastic person.”

Raising money for Special Olympics has long been a love for Cox, and is something he plans on continuing in his post-policing career.

“If we can raise a few dollars to support the cause, it’s something we love to do,” said Cox. “I’ll still be involved with Special Olympics and the Essex County Heroes.”

General Amherst boys hockey team coach Pat Garrett (left) presents an award to Mike Cox in recognition of Cox’s service to the school community.

Cox is hopeful the Special Olympics hockey game continues under the Windsor police banner.

“It’s the community. That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “The more contact with police only makes for a better community.”
General Amherst head coach Pat Garrett, who presented Cox with a plaque in recognition for his service over the years, said it was a great cause the team and school were happy to be part of.

“I think it was a fun day,” said Garrett, noting the work put in by fellow teacher Greg Scott’s fitness and recreational leadership class to make it happen.

Garrett noted DeBruyne was also supportive of the event, adding that honoring Cox “was very important.”

For more photos from the game, please visit our Facebook photo album.

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

Chatham Maroons add Amherstburg player to their lineup



By Ron Giofu


The Chatham Maroons will have at least one Amherstburg name in their lineup next season.

The Jr. B hockey team signed Josh DiCarlo with DiCarlo having played last year with both the Windsor AAA program and the General Amherst Bulldogs high school team.

“I’m excited to be given the chance to prove myself,” said DiCarlo. “As a smaller guy, people have always tried to put a ceiling on my hockey career. I’m grateful that the Maroons looked past my size, and focused more on my work ethic and my ability to see the ice and make things happen.”

DiCarlo said the Maroons were keeping an eye on him during his last season with Windsor AAA. After the season, he had the opportunity to be invited to a pre-camp and it was at that point where he stated that they showed real interest.

General Amherst’s Josh DiCarlo scores a second period goal against Kingsville Dec. 21. The Amherstburg athlete just signed with the Chatham Maroons.

“It’s too soon to say what my role with the team will be, but I’m happy to be a part of the organization, and seeing what is in store for me,” he said. “I think the adjustment to junior hockey will be a big one. Heading into my Grade 12 year, I will have to continue to make school a priority while travelling to and from Chatham throughout the week, being on the road for games, etc. I’ll have to make sure I get all my homework done on the bus!

DiCarlo added that he just started playing in a league once per week with other junior players and he is also going to the gym on a regular basis to build up his strength. He added that he is thankful for everyone who helped him along the way.

“I have to say how grateful I am for all of the coaches I have had throughout the years. Without them, I wouldn’t be the player I am today,” said DiCarlo. “I should also say how appreciative I am for my parents, who have always supported me and been my biggest fans.”



Amherstburg South County Predators win pee wee championship


The Amherstburg South County Predators won the Pee Wee Championship earlier this spring.

It was a hard fought game against the Kingsville South County Predators  but the Amherstburg team was able to pull off an overtime victory. The championship game  reflected the season that the Amherstburg South County Predators had in that they always worked together as a team to bring out the best in each other and they never gave up on a game. This team was comprised of a wonderful group of girls that always supported each other and displayed a genuine love of the game.

Team Roster: Mia Mitchell, Hanna Coulson, Carly Palumbo, Mackenzie Benoit, Sofia Kulik, Allison Gailitis, Justine Gorham, Julia Rufo, Kira McCurdy, Morgan Tweedell, Claire Shipper, Santi Dewan, Bianca Goncalves, Emma Burke, Alexis Robson. Coaches: Head Coach, Jamie McCurdy, Assistant Coaches: Kevin Mitchell and Shaun Tweedell. Trainer: Tara Penny. Team Manager: Nancy Gorham.

The players and parents would like to thank the coaches for their dedication and commitment to the team. A special thanks to our team manager Nancy Gorham for the countless hours spent organizing our lives! Also, to a great group of parents that always were positive and cheered on our girls! Looking forward to next year.

—Submitted by Crystal Palumbo

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.