Matthew Hennessey made 27 saves, Austin Saint scored his 16th goal of the season, and the Bonnyville Pontiacs earned a huge win on home ice Sunday afternoon 3-1 over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
Seizing upon a tired Oil Baron group that had played the last two nights in the Border City, the Pontiacs victory puts them just 3 points back of Fort McMurray for 2nd in the North and 5 points back of the Spruce Grove Saints for first, who they play at the Grant Fuhr Arena on Tuesday night.
It’s now five straight wins for the team, who also beat the Camrose Kodiaks 7-4 on the road, which saw local affiliate player Brent Hoshowski score his first two AJHL goals as part of the rout.
With this recent play, the Yaks are once again ranked in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top 20.
Coach Rick Swan was happy with his team’s performance, scoring the game’s first two goals on the powerplay, while limiting the Oil Barons lethal powerplay to just one against. He credited his team’s play away from the puck as a catalyst for success.
“What I particularly liked about this win was we were forced to be content in playing the right way. You have to have the understanding that individual success sometimes you have to get into a team mindset in terms of applying of what we’ve taught in practice into a game. We didn’t give up much. It wasn’t so much what we got, but we didn’t give up much,” said Swan post-game.
“At the end of the day, they played the right way and I think there was a better feeling in the dressing room, knowing if we do this, we have a chance to become a team that competes hard because this is exactly the type of game we’ll see in the playoffs. That 1-0, that 2-1, 3-2 game. If our guys learn those lessons here in December or end of November, it’s going to make our group a lot stronger because of it.”
The Yaks are now undefeated against Fort McMurray this season (2-0).
Friday night’s offensive explosion of seven goals tied the season high for the most in a game at almost the mid-way point of the 2021-22 year.
Austin Saint’s 16 goals are tied for 6th in the AJHL and Sebastian Tamburro’s 31 points are tied for 11th best in the league.
After playing the Saints on Tuesday, Bonnyville will play a neutral site contest in Vermilion on Friday against the Sherwood Park Crusaders and proceed to have the weekend off.
You can listen to home and away Pontiacs games on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs.
Skate with the Pontiacs
After the game on Sunday, fans joined the players on the ice for a public skate. It was the first time the team could do so in two years.