Wednesday night the Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs will have an opportunity to seek revenge on the Lloydminster Bobcats. It seems like so long ago when the Pontiacs last met the Bobcats, and really it was a whole different team that fell short to Lloyd opening week of the AJHL. Associate Coach Larry Draper says the Pontiacs are ready for some payback.
“We have two new goalies, a few new players, and the team has really come together,” Draper says he’s seen a lot of progress over the past month and a half, since they’ve last met the Bobcats. “They’re scoring on the power play, off net drives, in-zone offense, and cycling the puck.” Draper is proud of how the team is proving to be strong offensively and defensively.
“They’re defending really well,” Draper says a lot of credit must be given to the new goalies that joined the team a few weeks into the season. “Young guy, Josh Williams, played Friday night and did very well. Oliver Charest played well on Saturday.” Both games were in Grande Prairie, with the Pontiacs bringing home both wins, 7-1 and 6-2.
It’s not just new men between the pipes that is helping the Pontiacs succeed, explains Draper, “the plan that’s put in place, by Coach Swann and myself, always helps our players to evolve and develop. We do some things that are different from most and we spend a lot of time on individual teaching in forward and defense specific drills.”
“It’s all about team, it has to be about team,” Draper says attitude has a lot to do with success, “as coaches we challenge each other every day, every drill that we do has to have a purpose. It has to be game-like and if it’s not, we adjust the drill so that it is. Because you’re practicing for what? To look pretty or to play the game. Our job is so the boys could play the game and play the game well. We’ve found this is very effective. You don’t need 100 drills to develop the kids, you need the right drills that are game-like, which is what we bring to practice.”
Fresh off a nine-game win streak, which was briefly interrupted last week, only to have the team pick up two more wins over the weekend, Draper says they are mentally and physically prepared for the Bobcats. “We’re looking forward to the game, very much so. If we were afraid, then we need to get out of the business. No way we’d be afraid to play any hockey team in the Jr A. We think we have the skill, the character, and the players that think the game. When you have those three attributes, that’s what’s important to win the game.”
The Bobcats are in town Wednesday night at 7:30 pm at the RJ Lalonde Arena.