The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs have added some impressive hardware to their shelves, three Pontiac members have taken home AJHL league awards. On Friday evening, Bobby McMann, Brinson Pasichnuk, and coach Rick Swan were presented their awards from league commissioner, Ryan Bartoshyk. Commissioner Bartoshyk says it’s pretty unique for an organization to win three of the six awards the league hands out.
“It’s pretty unique and a great accomplishment for them,” Bartoshyk, who played for the Pontiacs 1998-1999, says the awards go to show the spirit behind the hockey organization. “It speaks to what they’ve done here, as a community and an organization. Definitely a credit to them.” Bartoshyk says McMann and B. Pasichnuk are examples of the talent the AJHL is able to produce, “they’re great athletes and great people. We take a lot of pride in what our teams can do for our athletes.” McMann won the AJHL Most Valuable Player title and B. Pasichnuk was named Top Defenseman. Head Coach Rick Swan received the honour of being named, AJHL Coach of the Year, “great recognition for Coach Swan, the whole staff, and what the community does for its athletes,” states Commissioner Bartoshyk.
Coach Swan says winning the award was very humbling for him, “it was a bit overwhelming. We preach, as coaches, it’s all about teams and working together, an individual award like this, you have to look at your coaching staff. I got a guy, in Larry Draper, that works overtime hours, he is as good of a coach as you can imagine. I’ve got two young guys, Mark Jensen and Craig Cuthbert, that both have bright hockey minds. It takes a lot of great people around you. You’re only as good as your players, who will work hard for you and buy into your structure. If they don’t believe in you or have that trust, you’re not going to be able to execute. I think we’ve been real consistent as a team, we’ve worked hard, and we’ve created an identity.”
Being named the AJHL’s Top Defenseman was unreal, says B. Pasichnuk. “Coming in this year I didn’t even think anything like this was possible, but with the coaching I’ve had and the success our team has put together, that is why it happen. My coaches and teammates helped me get here.” B. Pasichnuk says success on the ice was something he’s always dreamed of, “I grew up watching the Pontiacs and all the great guys that have come through the Alberta Junior Hockey League, to be able to be named Defenseman of the Year is incredible. I’m so thankful for it.”
The same night as winning the award, B. Pasichnuk broke the franchise record for most points in a season, “a guy like Matt Register had it before and he’s one of the most offensive D-man I’ve ever seen, so to be able to surpass him feels really good.” Coach Swan say he saw something in B. Pasichnuk, “Brinson is a special kid. Look what he’s done, he’s broke the franchise record for goals and the franchise record for points. That’s a career year.” Coach Swan recognizes how huge breaking these records as a defenseman is, “for a forward to have those type of numbers would be a NCAA schloarship, for sure, never mind a defenseman. I think that’s why he’s so special. NHL scouts are at every game watching him. Brinson’s a young guy so he can get his first kick at the draft.”
McMann has had a stellar year and says the MVP title comes with an incredible feeling, “obviously, it’s special to get recognized with an award like that. But I couldn’t do it without the support of my teammates all year; battling in practices and games all year. I owe it all to them and the coaches for all they’ve given me.” Coach Swan says McMann is the hardest worker on the team, “this guy is a real good example for young kids to see. How do I get better? I do I fulfill my objectives and reach my dreams? First one on the ice and last one off the ice, he’s a workhorse in the gym. he’s here taking advance of his program, this is his rink and his gym and he’s taking everything he needs to be successful.” McMann’s philosophy is simple, “I try to go into every practice to get better and try to do something better every day.”
Rick’s been a great coach to me for the last three years. He’s taught me so much, more than I’ve ever learned in hockey. I can’t say enough great things about him and what he’s done for me. He got me to Bonnyville. I want to thank him for that! – Bobby McMann AJHL MVP 2015-16 Season