When the Bonnyville Pontiacs hit the ice again tonight for the first time in three and a half months they will be with more local talent.
Forward Wyatt Cook from Cold Lake, defenceman Cam Emigh from Bonnyville, and goaltender Bradley Mistol from St. Paul have been added by the Yaks for the stretch of 24 games in the next three months.
They join Bonnyville-natives AJ Macaulay and Austin Saint already on the club.
With Bonnyville and Sherwood Park about to lock horns for the next eight games, both Emigh and Cook are looking forward to the opportunity of playing Junior A hockey close to home.
“Obviously for me, it’s an honour, being a hometown kid. My dad played here when they first had a team in Bonnyville. So for me just an honour to play here. I’ve always wanted to play here as a little kid,” said Emigh.
Cook echoed those sentiments.
“It’s awesome being really close to home for me too and the culture here is just awesome. Rick Swan, Neil Langridge, TJ Millar, just all great guys,” said Cook.
The team has gone through a lot of roster changes since their last game on November 21. Then captain, Matt McKim, was traded close to home in the Maritimes along with fellow 20-year-old Alex Marrocco during the shutdown after they requested moves.
American-born skaters Will Hilfiker, Michael Fairfax, and Nick Traggio have returned to the United States, and Josh Kroon elected to play in the NCDC in the US as well where he was guaranteed games. There is a chance Kroon could return to Bonnyville later in the season.
Emigh and Cook spent the downtime these past several months working out at home or finding places to skate in Saskatchewan with Chad Cabana.
With just six defencemen currently on the Pontiacs roster, Emigh will be thrust into the lineup sooner rather than later for his first Junior A game. He played four games this season with the Lloydminster Bobcats U18 AAA team before the shutdown, with the season prior playing with the Lakeland Panthers AA.
“Obviously in minor hockey, it’s a lot slower and not very big, fast, strong kind of thing. So the transition here has been an eye opener, they’re a lot bigger and stronger and faster. So just for me, just to get up to their level would help a lot,” he said.
Cook played all of last season with the Cold Lake Junior B Ice scoring 16 points in 16 games. He said due to rehabbing an injury, it’s been almost a year since he last played a game.
He hopes to model his game after a particularly skilled and agitating player currently on the Calgary Flames.
“I just want to be entertaining to watch. I want people to see stuff going on out there, so if I had to compare myself, hopefully I look like Matthew Tkachuk out there,” said Cook.
Both eagerly are awaiting puck drop.
Bradley Mistol, who also comes out of the NEAJBHL after two seasons with the St. Paul Junior Canadiens, will be the third netminder for the Pontiacs in this return to play, slotted behind Easton Hesse and Matthew Hennessy.
The Pontiacs record from November will carry over, so the Yaks are 2-2 and the Crusaders, who have had a flurry of roster activity since last season’s first-place record season showing, are 0-3-1.
So far, after two round of COVID-19 testing, no player or staff has tested positive.
You can listen to the games live on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs.
Both Friday and Saturday night’s games begin at 7:00pm.