It was an intense opener to the playoffs at the RJ Lalonde Arena, as the Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs fell in overtime to the Sherwood Park Crusader 4-3. Head Coach Rick Swan says the real win will be the team’s ability to overcome the loss and come back fresh minded tonight for Game 2.
“We have to have a short memory going into tomorrow and realize that it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be a quick series; especially against these guys,” Coach Swan acknowledges the rivalry that’s been building between the clubs over the season. “We have to cultivate positive energy, no matter how disappointed we are with the loss, because tomorrow is a new day and it’s a new game and a chance for us to get back.
Great thing about our team is we haven’t lost back-to-back games all season. – Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
Although opening t
he game with a goal in the first from Charlie Gawlicki (assist to Erik Donald), the Pontiacs dropped the lead in the second and fell 3-1 after three back-to-back goals from the Crusaders. Two of those goals came from a power play. Coach Swan says he was very impressed with the team’s ability to not let the three goals weigh them down; in fact the club was able to tie it up before the end of 40. Kyler Hehn at 18:05 with the assist from Steenn Pasichnuk and with one second left in the second period Bobby McMann put in the tying goal from Steenn Pasichnuk.
We got to stay together, we’re okay here and we got to stay positive. -Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
In the third, Ben Mack saw some redemption for a nasty cross-check he endure a few games back, when he last met Sherwood Park. The check left the defenseman laid up and out of action for a five games. Revenge wouldn’t come cheap for #3, he was booted or Game Misconduct and received a five-minute major. Mack is looking at sitting out the next two games due to the hit. “I couldn’t dispute it,” Coach Swan says of the call, “I thought it wasan impact hit. You look at the Court of Hockey, Ben Mack was out for five games, that was the kid that cross-checked Ben Mack in the head, so you knew that kids have memories and there’s nothing you can do as a coach, out there.” The hit incited a line brawl between the clubs, that ended with sticks scattered, all skaters on their feet, and one yak and one crusader in the box; while Mack skated off-ice to undress.
We can exploit a lot of their team’s fault, just with our speed. – Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
The scoreboard would remain untouched during the third, forcing extra time. The Crusaders closed Game 1 with a high shot at 4:19 of OT from Ryan Kruper. “We knew that this series, especially, was going to be the series everybody is talking about. It’s going to be the best to three in a five game series,” the AJHL opening round of the post-season is best of five, as opposed to best of seven, like most hockey leagues. “We thought we played well, overall.”
Coach Swan anticipates Game 2 to come with as much, if not more action than Game 1, “that’s their game plan. We’re going to have to slow them down and finish checks. We have to stick to our norms, move pucks, move our feet and force them to exert a lot of energy.”
They’re guy (goalie) played very well, look at 49 shots, that’s an MVP performance. Now, we have to find ways to get pucks past him. Which we will, I’m confident we will. -Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
The Pontiacs take on Sherwood Park tonight at the RJ Lalonde arena, puck drop at 7:30 – WIN tickets on LCN