Paul Bortignon

Admirals bolster lineup with newest signees

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Admirals will have some new faces in the lineup and the local Jr. C franchise is excited to add them.

Forwards Dean DeLuca and Ty Moss have signed with the Admirals while defenseman Aaron Jacobs has re-signed with the team. DeLuca played with the Amherstburg Stars midget major team last season while Moss comes out of the Windsor AAA hockey program. Jacobs played with the Admirals last year.

Admirals general manager/head coach Paul Bortignon said the team is pleased with the latest additions.

“To sign three guys like this is a good start for us going forward,” said Bortignon.

Bortignon hopes that DeLuca and Moss can be top nine forwards with the club, if not in the top six. While the Admirals led the PJHL Stobbs Division in scoring last season, there were points in their playoff series loss to the Mooretown Flags where they needed a goal and couldn’t get one.

The Admirals will take a different approach offensively next season, Bortignon added, as they plan on putting a lot of pucks to the net and players as well.

That style of play could suit DeLuca, who describes himself as a power forward who likes to go in the corners and drive the net. He added he looks for bounces and deflections in front of the net and patterns his game after Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks. DeLuca said he likes how Kesler bangs bodies and still scores goals.

The Amherstburg Admirals officially signed new players Saturday morning. From left: head coach/GM Paul Bortignon, co-owner Matt Fox, Aaron Jacobs, captain Austin Jennings, Dean DeLuca, Ty Moss and co-owner Gaspare Spada.

Moss describes himself as a two-way forward in the mold of Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals. Moss said he wants to make sure he is good defensively but also be able to put the puck in the net in the offensive end.

Moss said signing with Amherstburg is a good “first step out of minor hockey” and believes he can develop and become a better hockey player with the Admirals.

“It’s a good place to start in junior hockey,” said Moss.

DeLuca is happy to stay close to home to start his junior hockey career.

“It’s nice to play in my hometown,” said DeLuca. “It’s going to be fun to try and move up and do something different.”

For Jacobs, he said he is pleased to return to the Admirals lineup.

“I love it here,” said Jacobs. “It’s one of my favourite places to play. I want to finish my career here with a championship, maybe two.”

Jacobs said the Admirals are a close group and called it “a great organization.”

“I love Amherstburg,” he said. “I come here to fish a lot. I like coming out here.”

Jacobs joked he doesn’t go on the Pointstreak website to check out statistics “because I don’t get a lot of points.” He said he doesn’t like getting scored on but hopes to expand his game offensively this upcoming season as well.

Co-owner Matt Fox said the team is excited to add talented players like Moss, DeLuca and Jacobs and believes the team is being steered in the right direction.

“It’s a big step forward,” he said of the new players.

“We got some good pieces today,” Bortignon added after the players officially signed Saturday morning.

Bortignon said the Admirals were “humbled” last season and they are going to take a game-by-game approach this upcoming season and set their goals that way.

Admirals hand out awards at annual banquet

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2017-18 Amherstburg Admirals reassembled Saturday night and celebrated the season, though admitting it wasn’t the result they were looking for.

The local Jr. C hockey team held its annual awards banquet in the Libro Centre’s community room with high hopes for next year and gratitude for the players, coaches, parents and volunteers that helped with this past season. The Admirals season ended in the first round of the PJHL Stobbs Division playoffs after they lost 1-0 in Game 7 to the Mooretown Flags Feb. 18.

“There are a lot of positives going forward,” said co-owner Wes Ewer. “(Co-owners) Matt (Fox), Gaspare (Spada) and I are excited for the future of this team.”

Ewer offered thanks to all who were involved with the team this past season.

“Without the players and parents, we don’t have a hockey team. Thank you for being part of our family,” he said. “I love that we are a tight knit group and I hope we continue that in the future.”

Ewer said they are one of the groups bidding to operate the pro shop at the Libro Centre, saying it would add value to the hockey team.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals held its award banquets Saturday evening at the Libro Centre. Front row (from left): Ben Larder, Reid Stieler, Dylan Muzzatti, Dean Patterson, Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander and Cory Burns. Back row (from left): assistant coach Daniel Slipchuck, Cole Welsh, assistant coach Eric Shaw, Josh Talerico, head coach/GM Paul Bortignon, assistant coach Rob Bondy, Austin Jennings, equipment manager Grant Wood and co-owner Matt Fox.

Head coach/general manager Paul Bortignon agreed, telling the group in attendance at the banquet that “we couldn’t do anything without you guys.” He added they are looking forward to a better result in the 2018-19 season though admitted they would missing having Fox behind the bench. Eric Shaw and Daniel Slipchuk have been added to the coaching staff.

Bortignon said “we had a successful year points-wise” though admitted they didn’t really want a first round playoff match-up with Mooretown. He believed the Admirals will take a big step forward next season, though acknowledged they will have to do so without graduating players Ryan Holzel, Ryan Alexander, Dean Patterson and Dylan Muzzatti, the latter being the captain for the 2017-18 season.

“It is a precious time,” Bortignon said of the junior hockey experience. “You are going to remember this going forward. Be proud of yourselves. Be proud of what you accomplished.”

The team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was shared by Cory Burns, the PJHL Stobbs Division leading scorer, and Ben Larder, whom Bortignon believes is one of the top goalies in the league. Austin Jennings and Dean Patterson shared the Defenseman of the Year Award with Reid Stieler being named Rookie of the Year.

The John Holzel Photographer Award was shared by the four graduating players. Cole Welsh captured the Don Elvy Teammate of the Year Award while the Earl Allard Coaches’ Award went to Josh Talerico. The Spada Family Bursary was award to Jennings.

Jennings was also named the new captain of the Admirals, with Burns, Travis Campbell and Caleb Paquette being named assistant captains.

“It’s super exciting,” said Jennings, of being named captain. “It’s something I wanted to be since I was a kid.”

Jennings said he wants to help lead his teammates, with the goal being “nothing short of winning it all.” He added he wants to help the younger players as “I want to show them what it takes to be a leader.” Jennings was an assistant captain last year and becoming captain was one of his goals.

“I want to do something good for the town. They’ve been with us through the ups and downs. I want to bring something back for them,” Jennings stated.

The team also paid tribute to the late Tom Schinkelshoek, who was with the president of the team when it was known as the Kingsville Comets and stayed with the team in different roles when the franchise moved to Amherstburg. He returned to Kingsville as president of the Kingsville Kings.

The Admirals will hold summer skates in the next few months before holding their training camp in late August.

The 2018-19 season will get started in September.

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 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.