PJHL Stobbs Division

Admirals suffer heartbreaking season-ending loss


By Ron Giofu


The weekend proved to be a heartbreaking one for the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals.

The Admirals, who led the PJHL Stobbs Division quarterfinal three-games-to-one after a 4-0 win in Mooretown Feb. 14, couldn’t close out the series and that included a pair of weekend losses. The final one was a Game 7 loss on home ice Sunday night to the Flags.

Brett Farr’s goal 6:42 into the third period proved to be the game’s only goal.

Mooretown forced Game 7 with a 5-2 win in their rink Saturday night. Bryce McGregor and Broden Meloche had the Amherstburg goals in Game 6 but the bigger loss that night was Ryan Alexander, who suffered a broken leg in the game. Despite his injury and the fact that injury required surgery earlier in the day, Alexander attended Game 7 in a wheelchair to cheer his teammates on.

Josh Talerico (24) takes a shot on Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins in Game 5.

“When you get into a Game 7, you are really leaving everything to chance,” said Admirals general manager/head coach Paul Bortignon. “I think our guys battled hard.”

Bortignon said they had the emotion of having to make up for the loss of Alexander, plus defenseman Austin Jennings played with a partially separated shoulder Sunday night.

“I think our guys did a good job of battling for 60 minutes,” Bortignon said, adding the only goal was a shot from the point that looked like it hit something in front and went in.

The teams limited each other’s scoring chances, he continued, and that it was a closely contested Game 7.

“That was probably the most evenly matched game of the series,” said Bortignon.

The injury bug started hitting the Admirals dressing room after Game 4 and that hampered the team, but Bortignon also gave credit to the opposition.

“Mooretown did a good job capitalizing on their opportunities,” said Bortignon. “(Mooretown goalie) Jake Wilkins was a difference maker in the last three games.”

Amherstburg’s Caleb Paquette splits through the defense during the third period of Game 7 Feb. 18.

Despite leading the PJHL Stobbs Division in offense this season, Bortignon said a problem they had during the season reoccurred in the playoffs including Game 7. He said when they needed a timely goal late, they couldn’t score one.

“You can’t take anything away from Mooretown. They did a great job,” said Bortignon. “We were a game short and couldn’t find the goals when we needed them.”

The Admirals had hoped to close out the series last Thursday night at the Libro Centre but lost 4-2 to the Flags. Mooretown built a 3-0 lead in that game – with the first goal coming just eight seconds in – and didn’t look back, although Amherstburg made it a one-goal game in the second period on goals by Caleb Paquette and Alexander.

Dylan Muzzatti (15) and Travis Campbell (19) console each other after the Admirals’ Game 7 loss.

“We weren’t ready to go,” said Bortignon, after Game 5. “We’ll take responsibility for that. When you get scored on eight seconds in, it’s a coach’s mistake.”

Bortignon said there may have been guys in the locker room looking ahead but gave Mooretown credit after last Thursday’s game as well.

“We lost to a good team tonight,” he said.

In Game 4 last Wednesday, Bortignon said they built a three-goal lead after two periods and were able to get the victory.

“(Goalie) Ben (Larder) was outstanding,” he said.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals salue the crowd at the Libro Centre after Sunday night’s 1-0 loss to the Mooretown Flags in Game 7 of the PJHL 
quarterfinals. The Admirals lost the series four games to three and their 2017-18 season is now over.

McGregor, Brett Smith, Cory Burns and Josh Talerico scored for the Admirals in Game 4.

In the five years the Admirals franchise has been in Amherstburg, it is only the second time the team has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The other time was their first season in Amherstburg, when they lost in seven games to the then-Belle River Canadiens. The team was able to rebound after that and have two straight appearances in the finals as well as a semi-final appearance.

With the win, Mooretown now plays the Lakeshore Canadiens in one PJHL Stobbs Division semi-final series while the Essex 73’s take on the Dresden Jr. Kings in the other semi-final.

Caleb Paquette is turned aside by Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins in Game 7, won by Mooretown 1-0 Feb. 18.

As for the future, the Admirals lose Alexander, Ryan Holzel, Dean Patterson and captain Dylan Muzzatti as they will be too old for Jr. C hockey next year. Bortignon said they do return players like Larder, Burns and Jennings and said those players, among others, will be solid building blocks for the future. He added that management and coaches will be looking for impact players for next year’s team that can contribute immediately.

The Admirals thanked the fans for the support all season, including the over 700 fans that turned out at the Libro Centre for Game 7. Bortignon said the training and equipment staff including Don Mouck, Stu Bertram and Grant Wood are appreciated for their work as are all the volunteers and supporters of the team.

Admirals hold two-games-to-one lead in PJHL playoff series



By Ron Giofu


Unlike the regular season when the road team won four of the five games, the home team has won each of the first three games in the Admirals’ PJHL Stobbs Division quarterfinal with the Mooretown Flags.

The Admirals took a two-games-to-one lead in the series thanks to a 7-2 win Sunday night at the Libro Centre. A Josh Talerico wrist shot gave the Admirals a 1-0 lead late in the first period and Caleb Paquette made it a 2-0 lead 30 seconds into the second period with a powerplay goal but Garrett Miller and Ryan Lyle quickly tied it for the Flags.

After that, it was all Amherstburg as the Admirals got a breakaway goal from Cory Burns late in the second period and third period goals from Ryan Alexander, Austin Jennings, Amilio Acampora and Brett Smith, the latter being a powerplay goal.

Amherstburg’s Caleb Paquette (6, left) breaks in alone on Mooretown goalie Jake Wilkins during third period action in Game 1. Paquette didn’t score on the play but the Admirals would win that game 4-2 Feb. 7.

Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon said Game 3 could have gone either way after a disappointing loss in Game 2. He said they got off to a good start and did a good job bouncing back after Mooretown had tied it at two in the second period of Sunday’s game.

“I thought our guys did a good job keeping their composure in the third period,” said Bortignon. “We just did a lot of things right. We played with a lot of speed in the third.”

Bortignon added that the Admirals should get a momentum boost from the game but acknowledged Mooretown won’t be happy with what happened in Game 3 and will look to turn things around in Game 4.

Before the game, Burns was honoured with an award for being the Stobbs Division’s scoring leader in the regular season. Burns finished with 65 points.

Game 2 was a heartbreaker for the Admirals, as they squandered a 3-0 lead and fell 4-3 in overtime in Mooretown Saturday night.

Admirals co-owner/assistant coach Matt Fox presents Cory Burns with an award prior to Sunday’s Game 3 as Burns was the leading scorer in the PJHL Stobbs Division during the 2017-18 regular season with 65 points. (Photo by John Holzel)

Dylan Muzzatti’s first period goal gave Amherstburg a 1-0 lead with Kyle Meloche and Michael Hatch adding second period goals for the Admirals. However, Nolan Riley, Joe Ferrera and Ryan Lyle scored third period goals for the Flags – the latter two being in the final three minutes of the game and while Mooretown had their goalie out for the extra attacker.

Lyle would score again 7:17 into overtime, this goal being on a powerplay, to give Mooretown the victory.

Mooretown outshot Amherstburg 59-30 in Game 2.

Game 1 saw the Admirals get off to a slow start as Joe Stock and Cameron Rannie gave the Flags a 2-0 lead just past the halfway mark of the first period. However, the Admirals would score the next four goals en route to a 4-2 win.

Ryan Alexander’s first of two goals came on a powerplay at the 14:26 mark of the first period and he tied the game almost 13 minutes into the second period. Keegan MacVoy broke the tie when his point shot found the back of the net on a powerplay at the 4:19 point of the third period with Broden Meloche scoring the fourth Amherstburg goal just over four minutes later.

The Flags outshot the Admirals 31-27 in Game 1.

Cory Burns (9) scores a second period goal on Mooretown’s Nolan Hakr during the second period of Game 3 Feb. 11. Amherstburg won that game 7-2.

“It took us a little while to get into it,” said Bortignon after Game 1. “(Mooretown) was ready for playoff hockey and it took us 6-7 minutes for us to get going. It was a good wake-up call for our club, for sure.”

Bortignon said they started Game 1 playing “regular season hockey” but quickly found their playoff mode.

“We expect this one to go long,” he said of the Mooretown series. “All we can control is how we play.”
Game 4 is Wednesday (Feb. 14) in Mooretown with Game 5 being Thursday at 7 p.m.

If necessary, Game 6 will be Saturday night in Mooretown with a seventh and deciding game being at the Libro Centre Sunday at 7 p.m. Monitor www.rivertowntimes.com and our social media feeds throughout the week to follow the Admirals’ progress.


Admirals-Flags playoff schedule released


The playoff schedule has been finalized for the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals first round PJHL Stobbs Division playoff series.

The Admirals, who finished the 2017-18 regular season in fourth place with 54 points (25-11-2-2 record), will face off against the fifth place Mooretown Flags (24-12-1-2, 51 points).

The schedule for the best-of-seven series is as follows:

GAME 1 (Wed., Feb. 7) — Mooretown at Amherstburg, 7 p.m.

GAME 2 (Sat., Feb. 10) — Amherstburg at Mooretown, 7:30 p.m.

GAME 3 (Sun., Feb. 11) — Mooretown at Amherstburg, 7 p.m.

GAME 4 (Wed., Feb. 14) — Amherstburg at Mooretown, 8 p.m.

*GAME 5 (Thurs., Feb. 15) — Mooretown at Amherstburg, 7 p.m.

*GAME 6 (Sat., Feb. 17) — Amherstburg at Mooretown, 7:30 p.m.

*GAME 7 (Sun., Feb. 18) — Mooretown at Amherstburg, 7 p.m.

*if necessary

Ticket prices will be $9 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, $4 for youth 6-12 and free for children five and under.

Mooretown won the season series between the two teams three games to two. Mooretown won 3-2 Sept. 24, 4-0 Nov. 12 and 3-2 Dec. 2 while the Admirals won 4-2 Oct. 28 and 4-3 Jan. 13. The road team won four of the five games the two teams played in the 2017-18 regular season.

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 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.