Ryan Alexander

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 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 pick up pair of 4-1 victories over past week



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals won twice last week, each by a score of 4-1.

The most recent of the 4-1 wins was Sunday night at the Libro Centre, when the Admirals knocked off the Petrolia Flyers. Ben Larder made 37 saves in the win with Ryan Alexander, Cory Burns, Luc Warnock and Josh Talerico finding the back of the net for Amherstburg.

Amherstburg’s Ryan Holzel (14, left) gets a scoring chance on Petrolia Flyers’ goalie Riley Collins during the third period of Sunday night’s game. The Admirals downed Petrolia 4-1.

Amherstburg snapped Petrolia’s seven-game winning streak by defeating the Flyers Sunday night.

The other game of the week was last Wednesday night in Wallaceburg. Burns, Dylan Muzzatti and Warnock put Amherstburg up 3-0 after one period with Talerico adding a third period goal in that 4-1 win. Larder made 30 saves against the Lakers.

“We looked at these as must-win games,” Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “It was definitely a big week for us and four big points for us.”

Bortignon said the win in Wallaceburg “went as planned” as the Admirals built an early lead and was pleased with Sunday night’s effort against Petrolia as well, noting they snapped the Flyers winning streak.

“I thought we did a good job in the first two periods and getting on (Petrolia’s) D (defense),” said Bortignon.

Bortignon said their intensity seemed to reduce after they built a 4-0 lead but still got a big win.

“In this league, any time you win a game is a big win,” he said.

Cory Burns (9, left) and Ryan Alexander (16, right) celebrate Burns’ second period goal Sunday night.

The Admirals started off the second half of their schedule well, Bortignon added, and will look to continue that Thursday night in Blenheim. The Blades have struggled somewhat this season but picked up a big win on home ice Sunday night against the Lakeshore Canadiens and Bortignon said Amherstburg will have to play hard for 60 minutes Thursday night.

The Admirals (10-8-2-1, 23 points) will host Wallaceburg Sunday night and will travel to Wheatley next Monday night.

In a related note, Ken Manley won an iPad courtesy of a Score-O game sponsored by Storey & Denomme Family Dentistry in the second intermission. Jay Proctor took the shot on Manley’s behalf. It was the third iPad given away this season.

Admirals get big win over Essex 73’s



By Ron Giofu


Two rivals squared off Sunday night at the Libro Centre in PJHL Stobbs Division hockey action with Amherstburg coming out on top.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals knocked off the Essex 73’s 3-2 in overtime with Ryan Alexander slipping the puck past Essex goaltender Tyler Ryan 2:02 into the extra period.

Amherstburg’s Ryan Alexander (16) scores the game winning goal on Essex goalie Tyler Ryan Sunday night. The Admirals won 3-2 in overtime.

The Admirals never trailed in Sunday’s game. After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for four goals in the second period. Dylan Muzzatti scored on the powerplay to give Amherstburg a 1-0 lead 2:22 into the second period. Essex’s William Stadder tied it exactly 12 minutes later but David Cooke scored on his former team just over a minute later to restore Amherstburg’s lead.

Essex tied it with under one minute left in the second period on a goal from Adam Gaiarin.

The Amherstburg Admirals celebrate their 3-2 overtime win over the Essex 73’s Oct. 22.

The teams were scoreless in the third period.

“It’s a big win,” said Admirals head coach/GM Paul Bortignon. “It’s a big confidence building win for us.”

Bortignon said the Admirals (4-5-2-1, 11 points) are getting healthy and he said they had a good week of practice.

“It paid off tonight,” he said.

It “starts and ends with the back end” for the Admirals, said Bortignon, and the team was bolstered by the return of defenseman Dean Patterson. Patterson rejoined the team Sunday night and “is a huge addition for us,” Bortignon noted.

“He’s a guy who adds instant leadership. He was a big part of our win tonight.”

Goaltender Ben Larder stopped 29 of 31 Essex shots and Bortignon said Larder was outstanding against the 73’s.

Ryan Holzel (14, left) gets a scoring chance on Essex goalie Tyler Ryan.

“With the addition of Patterson and the goaltending stepping up, it’s huge for us,” said Bortignon.

Amilio Acampora and Caleb Paquette returned from injury and injected speed into the lineup as well. Bortignon said they’ve played a lot of the year thus far with only ten forwards due to injury.

“It’s nice to be healthy and nice to be able to put four lines out there on a consistent basis,” said Bortignon.

The Admirals will only have one practice this week as they play in Blenheim Thursday, are at Mooretown Saturday before returning home this Sunday for a game against Wheatley.

“Those are teams who have knocked us off the first time we played them,” said Bortignon. “We need to take the same mentality (as they had against Essex) in those games and if we do, we have a chance to get close to six points if not all six.”

Bortignon added the crowd against Essex was strong and that the Admirals appreciate the support from the community.

“Hopefully they enjoyed the result,” he said.

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.