St. Paul’s Bradley Mistol has moved up from Junior B to Junior A hockey this year, taking a place as the third goalie on the roster for the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Prior to COVID-19 and the 2019-20 final against the Lac La Biche Clippers that never was, Mistol played for the St. Paul Jr. B Canadiens.
“Moving to the junior level, the junior atmosphere was awesome. Coaches brought me in and just took me under their wing, being 16 years old and in that league,” said Mistol.
According to Mistol, the move from Jr. B to Junior hockey happened pretty quick, and it all started with a text from Canadiens GM Dean Smyl saying that Pontiacs wanted him for the next three months.
“And within the next hour, I talked with Rick Swan and TJ Millar and talked about everything that’s going to happen and to make it all happen, and within three days I was moved into my billet house,” said Mistol.
According to Smyl, seeing players progress is why he took the job as General Manager.
“It’s a great feeling, and this is what it’s all about is seeing those young men progress not only in hockey, but in life,” said Smyl.
Asked what it will mean for the Canadiens roster next season, Smyl said it is what it is. “I’m proud of Brad and we’ll have to look for someone else to fill his shoes.”
Mistol said while he wants to have a career in hockey, the call was still completely unexpected and that it didn’t really start to sink in until after he was moved and started his quarantine.
“You step on the ice. And it’s like, wow, like, I’m here. This is happening. So it felt really good. Really good, and I’m having an awesome time so far.”
Asked what the biggest adjustment has been for him since coming up to the Junior A level, Mistol said the pace of games and practices has been a great challenge.
He said the biggest surprise was that the team set him up with a billet family even though he’s just coming from St. Paul some 45-minutes away.
“I thought maybe I’ll go there like one or two times a week and wouldn’t really be too involved with the team and wouldn’t like come here full time, move here and everything. … I was like, wow I actually got to move there,” said Mistol.
In his first game on the ice with the Yaks last Friday, Mistol allowed only one goal on roughly 20 shots from when he took net 7 minutes in to the second period. The Pontiacs were down 4-1 when Mistol relieved Hennessey and ended the game against the Sherwood Park Crusaders 5-3.
“The nerves didn’t really set it in all which I was surprised by. I kind of just got out there as quick as I could and started playing. Made that first save and that kind of settled me in and then yeah, felt good. Moving well, tracked the puck well and had a pretty good game,” said Mistol.
He said playing hockey with the Pontiacs this season, even with the COVID restrictions is an absolute privilege.
“We’re one of only a couple [leagues] in the country that actually get to play. So just being around the guys and actually getting to play and having fun with them. Like last night was Wing Wednesday, all the boys in the lounge watching a movie. It’s just awesome,” said Mistol.