Paul Bortignon

Admirals play well during busy stretch



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Admirals have been busy as of late and the results have been mostly positive.

After a 3-1 win over Petrolia Dec. 30, the Admirals went to Wheatley last Wednesday night and picked up a 5-2 victory. Dean DeLuca had two goals for Amherstburg while Travis Campbell, Cory Burns and Max Clifford also scored.

The only blemish over the weekend was a 5-2 loss in Lakeshore Friday night. Austin Jennings and Reid Steiler had the Amherstburg goals. The Admirals bounced back on the weekend at home with a pair of wins, starting with a 5-4 win Saturday night versus Blenheim. Caleb Paquette,Jennings, Josh DiCarlo, Amilio Acampora and Stieler scored for the Admirals but coach Paul Bortignon said they didn’t end the game they way they wanted, as they allowed three goals late in the game.

Amherstburg’s Josh Talerico (24, blue jersey) and Bryce McGregor (18) look for a scoring chance during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Dresden.

Jared Ratko played well Saturday night for the Admirals but Bortignon said his teammates “left him out to dry” late in that game.

The Admirals bounced back Sunday night with a solid 2-1 win over Dresden. Clifford and Josh Talerico got the Amherstburg goals. Dresden thought they tied it with 1:26 to play but the officials waved the goal off after it was ruled to be directed in with a glove.

“That’s a big win for us. We took three of four over the week,” said Bortignon after Sunday night’s game. “Friday night was tough but we bounced back (Saturday) night. Tonight, we battled hard and that’s nice to see. We were down bodies but the key was our depth.”

Bortignon said the win over Dresden was a “great effort” and that started with goalie Ben Larder and spread throughout the entire lineup.

Amherstburg’s Christian McBride tries to put one home during the Admirals’ 3-1 win over Dresden Dec. 30.

The Admirals are part of an outdoor series of games this Saturday as they play the Wallaceburg Lakers at Lanspeary Park in Windsor starting at 1:45 p.m. Bortignon said it was a good idea by the league to showcase itself. Bortignon said they don’t know what to expect in an outdoor game but “I think our guys will have fun with it.”

Other games at Lanspeary Park include Petrolia battling Lakeshore Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and Wheatley playing Blenheim at 5 p.m. Saturday, after the Admirals-Lakers game.

The Admirals return home Sunday night to host the Wheatley Sharks at 7 p.m.

Admirals drop two straight heading into Christmas break


By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Admirals didn’t go into the Christmas break the way they wanted to but used the break to try and refocus themselves.

The Admirals final game before Christmas was a 6-0 loss on home ice to the Essex 73’s, only the third loss in 14 games at the Libro Centre (11-2-0-1 as of Dec. 27). Overall, the Admirals were 18-7-0-3 heading into the Christmas break, good for 39 points.

Essex led 1-0 headed for the third period of the Dec. 23 game, but the 73’s erupted with five goals in the third period, three of which were on the powerplay. Six different goal scorers found the back of the net for the 73’s.

“I think we were playing well for two periods but obviously two periods aren’t going to win you many games,” said Admirals head coach Paul Bortignon.

Bortignon said they have bounced back from losses like that before and believed that, even though they put that game quickly behind them, the Admirals can pull together and build on it.

Amherstburg goalie Ben Larder (1) stops Essex’s Bryce Ryan (14) Dec. 23. Admirals forward Josh DiCarlo (8) is at left. Essex won 6-0.

“Sometimes it’s good to fall on your face,” he said. “It’s going to show our character going forward and it’s going to show what kind of team we are going forward. This can be a positive.”

The entire weekend before Christmas was tough, he said as they lost 4-1 in Lakeshore 48 hours earlier. Bortignon said they have gotten off to a good start to the 2018-19 PJHL Stobbs Division schedule and told the RTT after the loss to Essex the Christmas break could be used to focus on family and forget about hockey for a few days.

The loss in Lakeshore saw the Canadiens score one powerplay goal and two shorthanded goals. Matt Smith scored a pair for Lakeshore while Cory Burns had the lone goal for the Admirals.

Bortignon said the games with Lakeshore have always been tight and that it was the Admirals that didn’t get their offense going in the most recent game. He said the effort was there for the most part but wanted to see a 60 minute effort against both Lakeshore and Esses.

The Admirals’ next game is Dec. 30 against Petrolia. Amherstburg is in Wheatley Jan. 2 and will be back in Lakeshore Jan. 4 night before returning home with a pair of weekend home games against the Blenheim Blades (Jan. 5 at 7:30 p.m.) and the Dresden Jr. Kings (Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.).

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.

Admirals down Mooretown at home, lose to Essex on the road


By Christian Bouchard and Ron Giofu

The Amherstburg Admirals have made it a mission to defend home ice this season.

After falling to the Essex 73’s Tuesday night in Essex, the Admirals responded with a 3-1 victory on home ice against the Mooretown Flags. The Admirals are now 7-1-0-1 at the Libro Centre.

After missing nearly the entire first half of the season due to a hand injury, the Admirals welcomed back veteran Travis Campbell to the lineup.

“I had a few setbacks but I’m thankful to be back,” said Campbell.

Cory Burns celebrates his second period goal against the Mooretown Flags during the Admirals 3-1 victory Sunday night.

The over-ager made an immediate impact by making big hits, including one that sent a Flags player over the boards and into the Mooretown bench.

The offense was once again led by Cory Burns who scored twice, including a powerplay goal. Burns now has an eight-game point streak which includes 12 goals and 18 points. Kyle Meloche would score the third goal for the Admirals on the penalty kill.

Ben Larder would get his ninth win of the season in net, extending his winning streak to nine in games he’s started this season. Larder is second in the league with a goal against average of 1.65.

“The guys in front of me played well,” said Larder. “Twenty shots against says a lot about our defense. They blocked shots and got pucks out quick. Shutting down Brock Perry and their top line was a key aspect to getting the win.”

Larder also noted the return of his fellow over-ager gave him and the team confidence heading into the game with Mooretown.

“We were pretty fired up that he was back,” added Larder. “He’s a big part of the team and it’s great to get him back in the lineup especially after being out for so long.”

The Admirals were in Essex last Tuesday night and dropped a 4-1 decision to the 73’s. Ty Moss scored the lone Amherstburg goal with just 54.8 seconds left in the third period.

Admirals goalie Jared Ratko faces a shot from Essex’s Josh Pope-Ferguson.

“I don’t think this was our best effort,” said head coach/GM Paul Bortignon.

Bortignon said he didn’t want to use playing four games in five nights as an excuse, but he said they weren’t as quick as they usually were and they had some players that were injured.

Jared Ratko played in goal in Essex and while he played well, Bortignon pointed out it was a case of not giving him any goal support.

“We really haven’t scored a lot of goals in front of him,” he said.

As of Sunday night, the Admirals are 12-5-0-2  with 26 points and are in fourth place in the Bill Stobbs division. If the season were to end today, the Admirals would secure home-ice advantage and face the Flags in a repeat of last year’s first-round matchup in the playoffs.

Admirals continue to “Burn(s)” opponents



By Christian Bouchard


The Amherstburg Admirals were busy this past weekend.

Amherstburg had their biggest test this weekend as they played four games in five nights.

The Admirals completed a weekend series which included a road game against second place Dresden Jr. Kings Friday and back-to-back home games against the Blenheim Blades and defending league champions, third place Lakeshore Canadiens on Saturday and Sunday. The Admirals were also on the road to play first place Essex Tuesday night.

“It shows us what we got, playing in a short span against some of the top teams in the league,” said Burns “It’s a measuring stick weekend to show us where we are. I truly believe we’re up there and a game like that shows even when we don’t have our best stuff, we find ways to win.”

The Admirals had a strong third period Friday as they thumped Dresden 6-2. Cory Burns led the offensive explosion as he had three goals and two assists.

Burns continued his scoring touch Saturday as he would score the lone goal for the Admirals, despite their 46 shots on Blades goalie Chris Dewulf.

Max Clifford scores a third period goal vs the Lakeshore Canadiens Sunday night.

Amherstburg would bounce back Sunday night against Lakeshore with a 2-1 victory. Max Clifford tied the game in the third period, setting the scene for a Cory Burns overtime goal with three seconds remaining.

As of Sunday night, Burns has a 6-game point streak which includes 2 hat tricks, a goal in 6 straight games, 10 goals and 15 points.

Burns credits his teammates with getting him the puck in good spots, which is allowing him to capitalize on his opportunities.

Cory Burns battles Lakeshore’s Brendan Soto for the puck during the Admirals 2-1 victory Sunday night.

Amherstburg capped off their series of games against top teams in the league with a game in Essex Tuesday night. That game was played after this issue of the River Town Times went to press.

After Sunday night’s game, the Admirals are now 11-4-0-2 on the season, good for 24 points. According to Burns, as the Admirals approach the halfway mark in the season, the team is right where they need to be.

“We got games in hand and we just keep proving we’re one of the top teams in the league as well,” added Burns.

The Admirals will host the Mooretown Flags Sunday night at the Libro Centre at 7 p.m.