The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs lost a tough match-up against the Spruce Grove Saints Tuesday night, 8-3 final score at the RJ. This marks the third lost for the squad, but definitely doesn’t deter the team, with three games this weekend, are ready to bounce back this weekend.
Voice of the Bonnyville Pontiacs, play-by-play man, Robb Hunter says Tuesday’s game was a tough one for the team, “it was a rough start for the team, the first two shots on goal went in. The team was quickly down 2 – nothing and that’s a pretty big hill to come back on, against any team in the AJHL, especially the defending champions, the Spruce Grove Saints. [The Saints] aren’t a team to give up big leads.”
Hunter was impressed with the team’s determination, despite the early goals the game wasn’t lost there in the player’s minds, “even with the Pontiacs giving up the first two and then a third, they seemed to stabilize the rest of the first period.” The Saints kicked off the second period with a goal, which but the Yaks further behind, explains Hunter, “made it 4-nothing and then it kinda snowballed, it’s 5-nothing, it’s 6-nothing.”
“But a positive sign for the Pontiacs was they continued to push back, and they scored a goal to make it 6-1. Okay, a little bitta life for the boys, 6-2, then 6-3, we get a little bitta light. Looks like this team might be coming back in this one. They did get a get scoring opportunity, but they weren’t able to capitalize on, too bad it would’ve made it 6-4 and very interesting. They get that good chance, aren’t able to score and the Saints come right back down the ice and get an opportunity and all of a sudden it’s 7-3 and that was the end of the comeback effort. Spruce Grove adds one more late to make it an 8-3 game.”
On paper it may look bad for the squad, but as Hunter explains on ice was a different story, “there are some positive from the game, the fans and the team can look back on. Maybe if bounces went a different way then the outcome may have been a lot different from it was last night.”
Hunter’s been the voice of the Pontiacs for a decade and says the team may have opened up the season with three losses but that reflects more on the schedule than it does the calibre of players on the team. “Despite the fact that the team is off to an 0 and three start, they took on the team that is hosting the RBC cup, a team that is built specifically for this year, Lloydminster. Then they take on the defending champions, the Spruce Grove Saints. The schedule is not doing the Bonnyville Pontiacs any favours early.”
Hunter says he’s seeing a lot of positive things from the team, “they are certainly competitive, they’re showing flashes in games where they’re dominating pretty good opponents. They just haven’t been able to catch the breaks that they’ve needed early on. Seeing the type of talent that this team has on the ice, when they put it together, and they’re going to do that, it’s going to be a fun team to watch throughout the course of the year. So is the 0 and three start a positive sign? Certainly not, it’s not what the fans wanted, it’s not what anyone was expecting, but there’s a lot of positivity with this team and the type of talent that they have and the type of talent that they can have going forward. I think this is going to be a pretty fun year to watch this team.”
The Pontiacs are heading into a three game weekend, starting with hosting duties on Friday, says Hunter. “Grande Prairie in town on Friday night and I think that’s important just for the psychie of the club. Grande Prairie isn’t supposed to be a good club in comparison to Lloydminster or Spruce Grove. There’s an opportunity for our team to bounce back against a team they need to find a win against.”
The Pontiacs will face a team they are already familiar with this year, the Whitecourt Wolverines, the Yaks dropped a pair of games against the Wolverines in the exhibition season. Hunter says this will be a tougher match-up, “Whitecourt’s gonna be a tough team to play against this year, they’ve got some tough bodies, big players, veteran guys. They’re gonna be a difficult team against this year, but they’re a team the Pontiacs are expecting to compete with.”
The Yaks hit the road for a Sunday game in Sherwood Park, Hunter says this is quite unusual for the AJHL, “the schedule not doing the Bonnyville Pontiacs any favours at all, I’ve never seen it ever in my ten years with the team where they play two games at home on a Friday – Saturday night, then travel to Sherwood Park on the road for a Sunday afternoon game. To see three games in two and a half days is fairly ridiculous but it is, what it is. You gotta play the games that are scheduled.”
Friday and Saturday games, like all home games this season, are 7:30 at the RJ Lalonde in Bonnyville.