Paul Bortignon

Admirals conclude regular season with 11-0 rout of Wallaceburg

By Jonathan Martin

Four Amherstburg Admirals have played their last regular season home game.

Dylan Muzzatti, Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander and Dean Patterson are aging out of the league, which means their final playoff season is just over the horizon.

“We’ve all been in the league for quite some time now,” said Muzzatti, who is also the team’s captain. “It’s a pretty sad day for us. We’ll miss the Sunday nights here in Amherstburg, for sure.”

Dylan Muzzatti and Dean Patterson were joined by members of their families for their final regular season home game with the Admirals.

The day wasn’t all bad news for the Admirals, though. Goalie Jared Ratko earned his first career shutout with an 11-0 win over the Wallaceburg Lakers. The game was also head coach and general manager Paul Bortignon’s hundredth career win and saw Caleb Paquette score his hundredth point among the five points he scored on the night. Cory Burns carried the night with five points.

Zack Yott and Alexander each scored twice for the Admirals. Other goals were scored by Carter Comeau, Paquette, Burns, Travis Campbell, Holzel, Austin Jennings and Reid Stieler.

“We wanted the two points to lock up home-ice advantage in the first round,” said Bortignon. “I thought our guys responded well in the first and that just sort of carried over in the second and third.”

Muzzatti said a big part of the team’s synergy came from the knowledge that it was the last time they would play together on home ice.

Ryan Alexander and Ryan Holzel were joined by members of their families for their final regular season home game with the Admirals.

“We were all pretty emotional and I think we all just wanted to put everything into it one last time,” he said. “Now, everything resets. We have to take it game-by-game, day-by-day and understand that from now on (the other teams) are going to be more prepared … both mentally and physically.”

Muzzatti said he believes the Admirals have the players to overcome that obstacle. Bortignon said winning the playoffs, a first for the Admirals, would be sports poetry.

“To go out as champions would be ideal,” he said. “It’s emotional for us. These four guys have … been with us since day one (except for Muzzatti, who joined in year two). If we could go out winning the championship, that would be pretty sweet for them.”

The playoff schedule has not yet been posted.

Admirals win two of their last three games



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Admirals had a busy week with three games and won two of them.

The Admirals (24-11-2-2, 52 points) were in Wheatley Monday night and captured a convincing 6-1 win over the Sharks. Caleb Paquette scored a hat trick for the Admirals. Broden Meloche, Travis Campbell and Cory Burns added the other Amherstburg goals. Ben Larder picked up the win in goal.

Amherstburg’s Travis Campbell fights through a pair of Lakeshore players en route to getting a scoring chance on Canadiens’ goalie Erik Morneau Sunday.

The Admirals lone home game of the week was Sunday night but they fell short against the Lakeshore Canadiens, losing 3-1. Connor Rosaasen scored just 1:20 into the game for the Canadiens with Matt Smith giving Lakeshore a 2-0 lead after two.

Cory Burns cut the Admirals’ deficit to 2-1 at the 1:35 mark of the third period but despite a better effort in the third period, Amherstburg could get no closer. Steven Sartor scored an empty net goal for Lakeshore with just over four seconds left.

Despite taking the loss in net, Admirals goalie Ben Larder had a strong night as he made several key saves to keep his team in the game.

There were no penalties in Sunday night’s game.

“We showed up for 20 minutes,” said Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “If wasn’t for Ben Larder, it probably would have been five or six to nothing after two periods.”

Bortignon said the rest of the Admirals players didn’t do enough to support their goalie Sunday night.

“Tonight, he was the best player on the ice by far. We’re not going to beat the best team in the league playing like that.”

The Admirals were “flat” in the first two periods Sunday night and Bortignon said they are 0-3 in their last three games combined against Essex and Lakeshore.

Amherstburg’s Ryan Alexander (16, right) drives around Lakeshore’s Colin Sartor during the first period of Sunday night’s PJHL Stobbs Division game at the Libro Centre. Lakeshore won the game 3-1.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow but we are still focused on getting the last four points,” he said Sunday night.

The Admirals were in Wallaceburg last Wednesday to battle the last place Lakers and came away with a convincing 8-2 win. Travis Campbell and Bryce McGregor each scored two goals. Ryan Holzel, Cole Welsh, Dylan Muzzatti and Broden Meloche also scored for Amherstburg. For Welsh, it was his first with the Admirals.

“We came out with energy,” Bortignon said of last Wednesday night’s contest.

Amherstburg did good things offensively and played well defensively also, as they played a “clean” game with not a lot of turnovers.

The Admirals conclude the regular season this Sunday night at home against Wallaceburg. It will be the final regular season home game for overage players Muzzatti, Dean Patterson, Holzel and Ryan Alexander.


Admirals pick up wins over Mooretown and Petrolia



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg’s Jr. C hockey team picked up all four points that were up for grabs on the weekend, but their coach/GM still sees room for improvement.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals travelled to Mooretown Saturday night and came away with a 4-3 win but had to have late game heroics by Ryan Holzel in which to do it. After Cory Burns, Josh Talerico and Caleb Paquette scored in the first period to give the Admirals a 3-0 lead, they held it until the third period when Mooretown took advantage of Amherstburg penalty trouble and managed to tie the game.

Amherstburg defenseman Reid Stieler (7, left) battles for the puck with Petrolia’s Trent Jardine Sunday night.

However, Holzel scored with just 3:25 left in regulation time to give Amherstburg the win. Ben Larder stood tall in the Admirals’ net, stopping 46 of 49 shots.

The Admirals returned home Sunday night and hammered the visiting Petrolia Flyers 9-3. Dean Patterson and Paquette each scored twice with Bryce McGregor, Michael Hatch, Broden Meloche, Ryan Alexander and Holzel also scoring for Amherstburg.

Goalie Jared Ratko picked up his first win as an Admiral.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon said the coaches want to see a better effort over 60 minutes every night.

“Obviously at this point, we’re fighting for every point,” he said. “It’s good to get the four points.”

Bortignon said the third period in Mooretown wasn’t as good as it should have been but “we fought back to get the win.” Even in the 9-3 win Sunday night, they didn’t play as well in the third period.

“We strung together 40 minutes in some games,” he said.

The Admirals have to do a better job locking down defensively and putting games away, he believed.

Amherstburg continued to make roster moves before the deadline, one of the more recent being the addition of Keegan MacVoy. Bortignon said MacVoy has got Jr. B experience and he helps bolster their blue line even further.

“For us, it was a no brainer to add him to our defense corps,” said Bortignon.

MacVoy said the Admirals were hungry to win these last two games after having lost the previous weekend to Lakeshore and Essex. He said he was happy to join the Admirals.

“I’ve been excited especially for this game,” he said after Sunday’s win over Petrolia in which he had one assist. “I’m excited to play in front of my hometown.”

Amherstburg’s Kyle Meloche (12, left) gets a scoring chance Jan. 14 against Petrolia. Amherstburg won the game 9-3.

MacVoy said they are gearing up to make a run at the PJHL Stobbs Division championship.

“I believe this team can win it all,” he said.

The Admirals (22-10-2-2, 48 points) have to increase their work ethic, MacVoy added, and stay out of the penalty box. He said there is a lot of skill on the Admirals but they have to avoid taking penalties.

The Admirals are in Wallaceburg Wednesday night before returning home to battle Lakeshore Sunday night. They travel to Wheatley to battle the Sharks next Monday night.

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 win seventh straight game, 12th out of last 13



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals closed out the 2017 portion of their schedule with their seventh straight victory and 12th win out of their last 13 games.

The Admirals downed the last place Wallaceburg Lakers 4-1 Friday night at the Libro Centre thanks to two goals from Cory Burns and single goals from Dylan Muzzatti and Ryan Alexander. The win put them in first place in the PJHL’s Stobbs Division with a 20-8-2-2 record, good for 44 points.

Goalie Catalin Morin recorded his first win in about three months and made 17 saves. Wallaceburg got its goal from Ryan Nicholson in the final minute of the game to break the shutout.

They were one point up on both the Lakeshore Canadiens and Essex 73’s after that game, though the 73’s had a chance to regain first place Tuesday night, after this issue of the River Town Times went to press.

Amherstburg forward Zack Yott (17, dark jersey) gets a scoring chance on Wallaceburg goalie Patrick Timpany during the first period of last Friday night’s game at the Libro Centre. The Admirals won the Jr. C hockey game 4-1.

“Who would have thought we’d finish (2017) in first place with the way we played at the start of the season?” asked Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “That’s obviously pretty important for this group.”

Bortignon said that should give the Admirals momentum as they look to finish the 2017-18 season strong. The 40-game regular season concludes at the end of January.

“We’ve had a great run and we’re going to focus on coming together and getting even better in 2018,” said Bortignon.

While acknowledging Wallaceburg’s struggles this season, Bortignon said the fact the Lakers picked up a 2-0 win last Wednesday night against Lakeshore was enough of a wake-up call for the Admirals not to let their guard down.

“That’s all we needed to get ready for this one,” he said. “Obviously, (Wallaceburg) isn’t up in the standings like other teams but a win is always good in this league.”

Bortignon said they were shorthanded three times in the third period and said they don’t want to pick up bad habits going forward, but was happy with the defensive effort and the Lakers’ low shot total.

The Admirals also played last Wednesday, a 3-2 win over the visiting Dresden Jr. Kings. After Dresden opened the scoring on a Will Tetzlaff goal, Travis Campbell, Michael Hatch and Josh Talerico scored before the first period was over to give Amherstburg a 3-1 lead. Cory Lucier cut it to 3-2 just 35 seconds into the second period but the teams were scoreless after that.

Ben Larder made 33 saves on the night for the Admirals.

“We got the win but it was not the best of efforts,” Bortignon said after Wednesday night’s game. “It was sloppy at both ends.”

Broden Meloche (71) of the Admirals drives to the net during the third period of last Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the Dresden Jr. Kings at the Libro Centre. Also pictured is Dresden’s Cory Lucier.

The Admirals had two big penalty kills in the game’s final ten minutes, said Bortignon, and managed to shake off some rust that had accumulated over the Christmas break.

“You don’t want to make excuses, but it showed,” said Bortignon, of the layoff.

He added: “That’s one game where the guys kept fighting and fighting and they fought for the win and the two points.”

The Admirals battle the Canadiens in Lakeshore Friday night and the 73’s come to the Libro Centre Sunday night. Both games start at 7 p.m.