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Saturday , 28 May 2022

Home ice kind to Pontiacs who win in 9-round shootout & Sunday thriller

The Bonnyville Pontiacs will officially be going to the playoffs in March with recent wins. 

Kash Rasmussen played hero on Friday night for the Bonnyville Pontiacs, getting the game-winning goal in the ninth round of the shootout to snuff out the Drayton Valley Thunder 4-3.

Then on Sunday afternoon, Bonnyville got 45 saves from Matt Hennessey on his birthday, and a late deflection from Matteo Giampa on a point shot was the one needed to defeat the Fort McMurray Oil Barons 5-3, and continue piling on the pressure against the team they’re chasing right now in the AJHL North.

“We liked our work ethic and our compete tonight. We knew if we played the right way and continued to play the right way with pace where we were after the first few minutes of the first period, our chances were coming,” said Pontiacs assistant coach Derek Hemsley. “We talked about getting net-front traffic in front of Nadler [Oil Barons goaltender], we talked about how he gives up rebounds and how we have to be in front of his eyes…we talked with our D all week on working on getting our shots through.”

With just 13 regular season games remaining on the schedule, the Yaks sit 5 points behind the Oil Barons for 2nd place in the division having beaten them four out of five times. The importance being that if the teams were to meet down the line in the post-season, Bonnyville would have home ice advantage.

It makes Tuesday night’s last regular season matchup back up north at Centerfire Place all the more important.

“Any time we can get home ice advantage, even in the first round of playoffs is huge, but knowing we could end up playing them [Fort McMurray] deeper in playoffs, we want that advantage,” said Pontiacs assistant coach Derek Hemsley. “We know that this next game is very important to claw within three points, but then we have to continue against other teams and make sure we leapfrog them and secure that second spot.”

After that road contest, the Pontiacs will host the number one ranked team in the nation in the Brooks Bandits (40-3-1).

Notes: 

  • Kash Rasmussen surpassed the 100 point plateau in regular season contests on Friday. The Bonnyville captain is on a tear this season, scoring 48 points in 38 games. He sits 17th in AJHL scoring and is four behind the Yaks leading point earner Sebastian Tamburro.
  • Matt Hennessey is now tied for 2nd amongst netminders in the AJHL with 21 wins this season after winning his last three starts.
  • Matteo Giampa’s goal snapped a 10 game goalless drought for the Yaks rookie, who now has 11 markers on the year.
  • Nine Pontiacs have scored double-digit goals this season. The latest one was Alex Atwill, who is on a three game point streak. The next could be Chayce Schmidt who is currently sitting at 9. Spruce Grove has 11 and Brooks has 12 with double-digit goals.
  • Bonnyville’s 9 round shootout win on Friday is believed to be the longest shootout during head coach’s Rick Swan’s tenure.
  • The Yaks have a 5-4 record in January, their toughest stretch on the calendar in the regular season. Only two of the Yaks matchups in February are against teams with winning percentages above .600.

You can listen to Tuesday’s road game against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs. The puck drops at 7:30pm.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.