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Admirals eliminated in five games by the Blades

The bad news for the Amherstburg Admirals – they saw their 2023-24 PJHL season come to an end Thursday night.

The good news, last Tuesday night at the Libro Centre, they beat the Blenheim Blades 4-3 in overtime to win their first playoff game since 2019-2020.

In last Tuesday’s game, it was tied 2-2 after the first and the hosts had a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. The back story was that facing elimination in the best-of-seven series, it could have been the final game for overagers Mitch Demelo, Jacob Archer, Derek Berdusco and Jaxon Boucher.

“I knew it could have been the last game of my career. We came in and battled hard. We wanted to extend the series and send a message to Blenheim that they couldn’t take us down in four games,” said Demelo.

Due to out-of-town work commitments followed by a 13-game suspension, Demelo only got into a handful of games this season but there is no doubt the Admirals were much better when he was on the ice.

There was a huge celebration on the ice when Finnigan Russett got the winner, his second of the night, on a breakaway in extra time with veteran defenseman Jaydn Brown drawing the assist. Throughout the overtime, Amherstburg coach Beau Hunter opted to play everyone.

“It’s tough, you don’t know if it’s going to be a minute or last 20 minutes,” he said of overtime. “The guys were gassed. It’s tough as a coach but everyone was included tonight.”

While Russett was the star offensively, rookie goalie Joe Costea turned in his best performance of the year making a whopping 49 saves. Also scoring last Tuesday for the Admirals were rookie Brett Jones and Archer.

“We played a more solid game defensively tonight,” said Demelo of Tuesday’s win. “We put a lot of pucks on their net.”

Noting that the Admirals were on the brink of elimination after dropping three straight to the Blades, Hunter commented on what the pre-game plan was.

“It was a do or die game. Do you want to come back to the dressing room and think you left stuff on the ice or do you give it your all and see what happens?”

Thursday night in Blenheim, the Admirals trailed 3-2 after 20 minutes but dominated the middle frame and held a slim one goal lead, 5-4 heading into the second break.

However, the Blades stormed out in the third and within 56 seconds scored twice, putting the Admirals back on their heels which they did not recover from. Archer and Russett each scored twice and, in dramatic fashion, Demelo opened the scoring. It was his final tally of a four-year career.

The finale saw Blenheim convert 3-of-7 on the powerplay while the Admirals were 0-for-4.

Mitch Demelo led the team in scoring twice and the Amherstburg native’s numbers are 133 total games played, 45 goals and 57 assists for 102 points. His 45 goals puts him tenth all-time on the Admirals’ list.

Also playing their final junior games on Sunday were Archer who had a very good career with Essex before coming to Amherstburg this year,  Berdusco and fellow defenseman Boucher.

SLAPSHOTS: During the five playoff games with the Blades, Mitch Demelo’s younger brother Connor led the Addys with six points… For Blenheim, who now advance to play the Essex 73’s, captain Craig Spence had 13 points.

Admirals eliminated in five games by the Blades

By Fred Groves




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