The new year started right for the Bonnyville Pontiacs as the Yaks used five different goal scorers to get past the Drayton Valley Thunder 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday.
Fighting back on three separate occasions to eventually get the game tied in the 3rd period, J.R. Ashmead found the best time to score his first AJHL goal, beating Byron Fancy on the Yaks’ 44th shot of the game in overtime.
Ashmead found himself back in a rearguard after jumping around the lineup to fill holes. Assistant coach Neil Langridge said after the game it was only a matter of time for the Calgary-area product, who picked up some of the slack with AJ Macaulay and Nick Traggio out of the lineup.
“I love the goal, I’m just over the moon for him,” said Langridge. “This game is about seizing opportunities. JR jumped up a couple games up front, but he was filling in where needed. That’s what a great teammate does.
“He got a chance on the band end tonight, and he thought he played well. He stuck with it, he made some nice offensive plays, and he was moving his feet and you saw that confidence that Coach Hemsley had in him by throwing him out there in overtime.”
Noah Heinrich, the 16-year-old defenceman from Provost, also scored his first AJHL goal in just his sixth game midway through the second period. Heinrich will be joining the Pontiacs full-time from OHA Edmonton.
The win puts Bonnyville just three points behind Fort McMurray for second place in the division, with roughly a third of the campaign schedule left to play. It also puts 11 point of distance now between themselves and the Thunder for third.
Alex Power’s goal scoring prowess continued with a 3rd period equalizer. Power now has 14 goals in his last 15 games, which is one of the hottest stretches in the league.
Next on the Pontiacs schedule – the top team in the nation in the Brooks Bandits, who have lost just twice in 37 games this season and have scored 234 goals in 37 games. That’s an average of 6.32 goals per game.
“We need to make sure we are overly prepared for the Brooks Bandits. Everybody knows they are an offensive juggernaut in this league and we haven’t seen them all year,” said Langridge.
“It’s going to be our first time playing them in their building on Friday night, and you have to make sure you have your i’s dotted and t’s crossed – because if there are holes in your game, they’ll find it.”
The mini roadtrip concludes in Drumheller on Saturday night, who the Yaks hosted earlier in the season and lost 6-5 in overtime. The Pontiacs return home on Wednesday, January 12 to take on the Spruce Grove Saints for the last time on home ice before the post-season.
You can listen every game all season long on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs.