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Saturday , 28 May 2022

Pontiacs stun Bandits in 3-0 shutout, win 4 of 5 to close tough month

It was as well-rounded a game the Bonnyville Pontiacs have played this season–maybe over the past few seasons.

Sebastian Tamburro scored two goals, Kash Rasmussen put up three points, and Matt Hennessey made all 30 saves as the Pontiacs stunned the highest-scoring team in the AJHL in the Brooks Bandits 3-0 on Saturday night.

Tamburro and Rasmussen each scored short-handed goals in the 2nd period to extend their point streaks to seven games, while the Bandits suffered their first shutout loss in almost four calendar years, dating back to February 10, 2018.

It’s even more impressive when you consider the Bandits had just lit up Fort McMurray the night before for 10 goals, and are already a top 10 scoring team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s history.

“What a performance by our boys tonight. Usually I’m pretty critical of all our games, but Coach Swan said it best, that was the most complete 60 minutes we’ve seen in…I don’t know how long. Even beyond this year,” said assistant coach Neil Langridge in the postgame. 

“Every line was going, doing their job, playing the roles they needed to play. The D were moving pucks. Henner [Hennessey] was great. I told them after the game, right from their pre-game meeting, I could see the intensity in their eyes. They were ready to play and if you take that kind of preparation to every night, there’s no reason we can’t be that best team in the league,” he said. 

Not only did the players get saluted for their efforts on Saturday, but the fans as well for bringing a rockus atmosphere to the RJ Lalonde, which hasn’t been seen in a couple seasons. Langridge acknowledged the challenges everyone is going through, but it certainly impacted the game.

“I can’t give enough credit to the fans tonight. It’s been a tough year attendance-wise, and we know everything-wise with the social-economics, but the atmosphere in the building was awesome…they were definitely the 6th man on the ice coming through.” 

The Pontiacs have now won four of their last five games to close out a difficult January schedule. Finishing the month 6-4-1, the Pontiacs opponents lighten up on paper, with just two games against opponents with over a 60 per cent winning rate. But that doesn’t mean Bonnyville can or should take the final month of the regular season lightly.

“We knew that our January schedule was a tough one. And our goal was to come out .500 or better and so we met that goal. Going into February, on paper it gets easier, but it only gets harder and harder as the season draws to a close and you have to hit your stride heading into those last 11 games. This was an unbelievable way for us to start and now we have to play consistently like this and we’re gonna look to catch the 2nd place Fort McMurray Oil Barons,” said Langridge. 

The Pontiacs continue a three game homestand this week by hosting the Whitecourt Wolverines on Tuesday night and the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Friday. The Yaks boast a 18-5-2 record at the RJ Lalonde Arena this season, including a victory over Brooks, three over Fort McMurray, three over Drayton Valley, and one over Spruce Grove.

Quick notes 

  • The line of Kash Rasmussen, Sebastian Tamburro, and Cole Hipkin continues to be one of the league’s best. With Rasmussen and Tamburro both currently on the longest active point streaks for forwards in the league, Tambo has jumped up to a tie for 10th in league scoring with 55 points, while Rasmussen sits 15th overall with 52 points.
  • The Bandits have lost their last two games played in Bonnyville dating back to 2019.
  • The win on Saturday gives Bonnyville 30 for the season overall. That’s the 15th time the Pontiacs have accomplished that feat in their 30 year history.
  • Ethan Sundar may be returning the Pontiacs soon after a wrist injury has kept him sidelined since Nov. 30. Sundar had scored 11 goals and 11 assists up to that point and would be a help on the team’s penalty kill.
  • The Yaks sit 6 points behind Fort McMurray for second place in the North, but do have a game in hand. These teams have no more head-to-head matchups this regular season.
  • The Pontiacs are hosting Ice Fishing Derby this Saturday at Angling Lake and there are still spots available.
  • Bonnyville has just five more home games this regular season (Whitecourt, Sherwood Park twice, Camrose, and Okotoks).
  • You can listen to every game live on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs.

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.