Matt Fox

Admirals welcome new assistant coach to staff

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Admirals are making some changes to their coaching staff with a local resident and former Jr. C player joining them.

Eric Shaw has signed on to be an assistant coach with the Admirals and will help work with the team’s forwards. Shaw is an Amherstburg native who won four titles in what was then the known as the Great Lakes Jr. C Hockey League (now the PJHL Stobbs Division) with the Essex 73’s.

Shaw, who finished his Jr. C career as a player two years ago, was an assistant coach with the Amherstburg Stars pee wee major team this past season. He said he likes helping younger players develop and wants to give back and pass along what he learned as a player.

Having been a player just a few years ago, he believes he can give a personal insight to current players and work with them to improve. He stated the Admirals have a solid core of players eligible to return for the 2018-19 Jr. C season and looks forward to being a part of it.

“We have a good group of guys coming back and I’m looking forward to the season for sure,” said Shaw.

Shaw added he will do whatever he can to help the Admirals get back to the PJHL Stobbs Division final.

Eric Shaw (centre) is the new assistant coach for the Integrity Amherstburg Admrials. He replaces Matt Fox, who will be focusing on the business end of the Jr. C hockey franchise as Fox is also a co-owner. At left is Admirals GM/head coach Paul Bortignon and assistant coach Rob Bondy is at right.

“Not that I need to do much, they’ve been doing great,” said Shaw. “It’s good to come back and help out.”

Admirals GM/head coach Paul Bortignon said Matt Fox will not be returning to the bench next season as Fox, who is also a co-owner of the Admirals, will concentrate more on the business aspect of the franchise with fellow co-owners Gaspare Spada and Wes Ewer.

“We feel Eric is a great addition to our team,” said Bortignon. “We’re definitely excited to have him and we’re hoping for an exciting season.”

Bortignon said Shaw’s experience on championship teams will help the Admirals, adding that Shaw is well respected both in the Admirals’ locker room and around the league as well.

“I think the guys will respect that,” Bortignon said, of Shaw’s championships as a player. “There’s an instant respect factor for us.”

Assistant coach Rob Bondy, who works with the Admirals defense corps, called Shaw a “class act” who will help the skilled players and other talent on the forward lines.

“I think he’ll really help the younger guys,” said Bondy.

The Admirals are also seeking a video coach and Bortignon said they want to have that coach in place by the April 25-26 mini-camp. He added there are still spots open for the mini-camp and players that are interested can e-mail him at paulbortignon@gmail.com.

“As much as it pains me to say, we’ve taken a step back in the playoffs,” he said, noting their second round exit in the 2016-17 season and the first round exit in the 2017-18 season. “Getting back to the finals is the number one goal for us as we head into next season.”

Admirals tie game with Lakeshore 2-2 despite overtime efforts

 

By Jolene Perron

After suffering a 5-2 loss against Dresden last Friday, the Amherstburg Integrity Admirals returned to their home ice against Lakeshore and put up a fight in their overtime 2-2 loss.

Against Dresden, vice president and assistant coach Matt Fox described the game as “a wake-up call” for the team.

“I think a couple of lapses in the second period cost us and put us behind the eight ball and then we were just trying to play catch up the rest of the game,” said Fox. “It was a decent effort, not as good as we wanted but as long as we stick to the process the results will come.”

The team took that game with them as a lesson going into Sunday night’s game against Lakeshore, where the first period went scoreless.

Josh Talerico skates down the ice, keeping the puck away from a Lakeshore player, close behind.

Admirals captain Dylan Muzzatti opened up the scoring for the night with a goal on a power play at 11:52, assisted by Michael Hatch and Bryce McGregor. That goal wasn’t answered by Lakeshore until 14:53 in the third period, when Jarrett Tazzman gave Lakeshore their first goal. In less than 40 seconds, Amherstburg came back with their second goal by Josh Talerico, assisted by Luc Warnock and Ryan Alexander.

The last goal of the game came at 18:19 of the third period by Lakeshore’s Kyler Carter.

The game went into a seven-minute three-on-three overtime period, which remained scoreless resulting in a tie game.

Admirals goalie Ben Larder stopped 44 of 46 Lakeshore shots on the night.

“The three on three is always a little bit different just because you put guys in tough situations,” explained Fox. “It was fast, and we would have liked to get one goal there on the power play at the end but we will take the tie and move on to Tuesday.”

The Admirals now embark on a four-game road trip, which started last night in Essex after this issue of the RTT went to press. They are in Wheatley next Monday night before games in Petrolia and Dresden on back-to-back nights Oct. 12-13.

The next home game for the Admirals is Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. versus Dresden.

Former owner returns to Admirals

 

 

Special to the RTT

 

A former owner of the town’s Jr. C hockey club is now a current owner once again. 

Co-owners Matt Fox and Wes Ewer made it official on Thursday that they and Gaspare Spada have agreed to terms that will see Spada back on board as an owner of one-third of the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals.

When asked why have Spada come back in now, Ewer simply had this to say: “Why? I say why not?  It was not a tough decision for Matt and I to make.”

Ewer went on to say that Spada approached him and Fox about coming back into the ownership group a couple months ago and it didn’t take the two long to agree.  

“We see so much value in having Gaspare back on board from an operations standpoint. He is the only reason Matt and I are where we are with this team today. He took a chance on (general manager/head coach) Paul (Bortignon), Matt and myself four years ago and I think it has worked out pretty well. He brings so much entrepreneurial experience that we couldn’t turn down the help on the business side,” said Ewer.  “With my new role being more business focused, I am very excited to have Gaspare help continue to push us in the right direction.”

The team had “a minor set-back” last year after being swept by the Essex 73’s in the second round, but the progress and steps that have been made as a team over the past four years are certainly nothing to be ashamed of, the ownership group states. Under Spada as an owner, the team saw its first finals appearance and then made it back there the following season after Ewer and Fox took over.  

“Gaspare brings a lot to the table for Wes and I,” said Fox, who is also an assistant coach. “He is a very passionate hockey guy and a very smart business person; it is a great fit to have him joining our ownership group.” 

The three owners believe they share a lot of ideas.

“My ultimate goal was always to be the best organization in the league. On the ice was of course to win a championship but more importantly off the ice, was to have a great place for players and families to play and be a part of, to have volunteers treated respectfully and give them the ownership to feel like part of the team. When the team wins we all win,” said Spada.  

Ever since Spada sold his shares, he felt like something was missing.  

“I’ve had an incomplete feeling since I sold the team. Hockey is in my blood and not winning a title doesn’t sit well with me,” he said. “I feel I can add some knowledge on the business side that can contribute to the success of the organization. With the support of my family, I felt that being involved in an ownership capacity again, was the right move.”  

When asked what challenges he sees in the future of the team, Spada replied: “Every year there are challenges with players, volunteers, finances and many aspects of running this business. However with the three of us pulling in the same direction, I’m confident that any challenges that appear, will be handled successfully.”

Spada thanked Ewer and Fox “for allowing me back into the mix” and he said he looks forward to “working with them to achieve that ultimate goal.”

The three-man ownership group is confident they won’t miss a beat.

“It is business as usual,” said Ewer. “Although he wasn’t an owner the past two years, Gaspare didn’t really go anywhere. His family is a big part of our organization and he himself never stopped helping us.”

Admirals down Petrolia 5-3 in regular season opener

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Integrity Admirals defeated the Petrolia Flyers 5-3 in the PJHL Stobbs Division regular season opener, but it is clear the Admirals are looking for a better effort going forward.

Ryan Alexander had a hat trick for Amherstburg Sunday night, including the opening goal 9:20 into the first period. Caleb Paquette made it a 2-0 game 50 seconds later. A bad bounce for Amherstburg led to a Connor Lovell goal and made it a 2-1 game but Alexander scored again at the 19:19 mark of the opening period making it a 3-1 game at the first intermission.

Amherstburg’s Caleb Paquette (6, left) rounds the Petrolia net with the puck while being watched by Eric Marsh.

The Flyers tied it on goals by Eric Campbell and Eric Marsh in the second period but captain Dylan Muzzatti’s goal gave the Admirals the lead after 40 minutes. Muzzatti also had two assists on the night.

Alexander scored a powerplay goal with approximately three minutes to play in the third period to round out the scoring.

Amherstburg outshot Petrolia 39-26 on the night.

“We came out pretty strong for the first little bit. We died down after that. We didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” said Alexander.

Alexander credited his teammates for the hat trick.

“None of the goals were unassisted,” he said. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”

The Admirals did a good job picking each other up but Alexander emphasized they have to have a better effort in future games.

“I’m glad we got the two points but we’ve got to have better efforts down the road,” he said. “Down the road, we can’t get away with playing ten minutes out of a full 60.”

Alexander said “expectations are always as high as they can be” for the season and that while they have some new faces this year, they have players with a good work ethic that will get better as the 2017-18 season goes on.

Amherstburg forward Cory Burns (9) crashes the net during Sunday’s 5-3 win over Petrolia. The Admirals got three goals from Ryan Alexander and single goals from Dylan Muzzati and Caleb Paquette in the season opening win.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon also pointed out they didn’t have the best effort on the night.

“What I told our guys was to be happy with the result but don’t be happy with the effort,” said Bortignon. “The effort wasn’t quite there tonight.”

If they have similar efforts in future games, the Admirals likely will be on the opposite end of the result, Bortignon believed. He attributed the less than stellar effort to first game jitters but said there was more intensity from the rookies through the veterans during the pre-season.

“Overall, it was not good enough,” he said. “We obviously have to get better and get better in a hurry.”

Bortignon was happy with the two points and the Admirals’ penalty killing, but didn’t think they were as good as they should be five-on-five or on the powerplay.

“It’s tough to pick out a lot of positives in a game like that,” he added.

Assistant coach/co-owner Matt Fox said the team was pleased with the attendance, noting they got a lot of support from the town.

“It was great to see,” said Fox.

The Admirals were in Essex Tuesday night, after this issue of the RTT went to press. They have two weekend games at the Libro Centre this weekend, hosting Blenheim Saturday and Mooretown Sunday. Both weekend games are at 7 p.m.

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.