The Bonnyville Pontiacs won their 9th straight with a 5-4 OT victory over the Calgary Mustangs. Head Coach, Rick Swann, is impressed with the squad’s harmony this early in the season, “if the guys are playing for each other than you have a team, and that’s something we have to continue.”
“Stick to the process, be faithful to the process, and play within our team structure,” there’s faith that comes with this mentality, explains Swann, “we have to believe we’re deserving of success.”
What’s special about the Pontiacs is there are a lot of great players on the team, rather than one standout, says Swann, “we’re creating a lot of offense. It shows that we’ve got depth among our forward alliance.”
The Calgary Mustangs opened up the scoring at 8:24 in the first. Pontiacs’ Zach Mills, #10 responded at 13:26. Making it two goals in as many games for the winger, “I was following the whistle in for support and the puck came out, made a nice little backhand off the post. It hit the goalie and went it.” The Mustangs were able to take back the lead at 19:55, to close the first period with a 2-1 score for Calgary.
Mills says the team was able to find a way to fight back, “we came out a little soft, but we stuck to our structure, just kept with it. Tried to stay positive throughout the game and we came out on top.” The Pontiacs opened scoring in the second at 3:21 with a power play goal from #8, Derek Brown. However, it was the Mustangs who won that period with a pair of unanswered goals, a shorthanded upset at 7:05 and power play goal at 15:00.
In the third the Yaks rallied to tie it up with a goal from #22 Alden Dupius at 4:05 and a power play popper from #9 Bobby McMann at 15:17, sending the game into extra time. Captain Steen Pasichnuk, #89, managed to finish it with a goal eight seconds into OT off line-mate McMann.
There’s a few elements at play propelling the team to success, says Swann, “our veterans are showing the way for the young guys. Our best players, are our best players. Our young guys are slowing understanding that even though it’s their first year in the league, they’re expected to contribute offensively. Allowing us to keep things simple, and that’s why we’re scoring goals, we’re getting shots and we’re creating offense.”
Mills is one of the rookies who’s starting to find his stride in the league, “it took a little while, but now I feel a lot more confident, comfortable and confident out there. I’ll take it into the next few games.”
There’s nothing like riding a nine game win-streak, says Mills, “it’s awesome, nothing like it.” Especially considering Mills’ family is up from Minnesota to see the 18 year old perform, “it’s been great. I’ve been showing them around Bonnyville, showing them where I’ve been living. They really enjoyed their time here, it’s been great to have them here.”
Swann says there’s a lot of expectation for the veterans to perform, “those guys know they need to step up.” Some members of the squad, including Bobby McMann and Brinson Pasichnuk has signed commitments for the upcoming year to play Division 1. Swann explains this can be a challenge on the young players, “[a player can] tend to relax a little bit. Those guys, [on the Pontiacs], know that the work’s just begun. If they invest as much as they can here, then things will just be easier for them. They’ve been terrific, they’ve been coachable this year. They always have been, but they’ve taken it to a new level.”
“They’re really great mentors and examples for our young guys,” which has made the difference in the team, says Swann, “to show them where they can get to, if you invest each and every single day.”
“They didn’t get here just by being great hockey players, it’s a process for them to work hard every single day and they’re doing it out there.” states Swann.