The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs took the second game of a double header weekend in Grande Prairie 6-2 over the Storm on Saturday evening. The night before the Yaks finished 7-1 over GP. Head Coach Rick Swann was impressed with the quick lead the team was able to secure.
“We came here with the intention of getting 120 minutes of good Pontiac hockey and we were able to accomplish that,” Coach Swann says the scores may look like a blowout, but the games were anything but, “saying that with a 7-1 and 6-2 scores, we had to earn it. Our guys had to work hard for it and [Grande Prairie] certainly competed for the entire 120 minutes to ensure that our guys had to ensure that everything they got with success, they had to earn”
For the second time in as many nights, Bobby McMann opened up the scoring at 3:48. #9 took a feed off Kyler Hehn and Brandon Whistle. GP responded at 9:18, but the back to back play stopped there in the first. Kole Brykes recorded his first AJHL goal and gave the Pontiacs the lead at 15:05 off Erik Donald and Brandon Whistle popped two in, 28 seconds apart, (18:10 & 18:38), before the end of 20 minutes.
The first of the two were the rookie #25, Whistle’s first AJHL goal, Whistle says it was, “just a shot off the point, it went off the far pad.” The goal that followed, Whistle calls “another greasy one that went off the point. Hehn was in front and jammed it in, it popped it off the goalie’s chest and I just put it in, empty net.”
Whistle says he’s been feeling good about his game and happy to get that first goal under his belt, “it’s definitely nice to get the first one out-of-the-way and then I don’t have to worry about it anymore.” Whistle plays with veterans McMann and Hehn, a line Whistle calls easy to play with, “get open and they’re give it to you, or they’ll get open and you’ll have an easy pass to give it to them.”
Just 57 seconds into the second, Hehn put on in off Derek Brown, and Brinson Pasichnuk recorded an unassisted goal at 6:54 to close the scoring after 40 minutes of play. Swann explains the offense was playing strong, “not only managed the puck well by getting it on the net, but we made sure there was pressure on the net, so those saves were made under pressure. We were able to capitalize on second chances and rebounds.”
“I thought our puck movement was real good, in terms of being able to force the opposition to adjust. Which created defensive breakdowns, which allowed our offense to kick-start,” Swann says the team worked well at forcing the play and were strong on their sticks. “I really liked our sticks, as well. We were able to eliminate a lot of the shots by the opposition team,just by having good sticks. Sticks on the ice that were able to influence the play by eliminating shots or if they did take shots on [goalie] Olivier [Charest] they were taken from the outside.”
Coach Swann was proud of rookies Whistle and Brykes on their first AJHL goals, “good things happen when you stick to the process.” Swann explains it took some time for Whistle to buy into the Pontiacs system, “he was a point producer in Midgets and it was hard for him to stay with the process, that if you play the game the right way. That if he worked on his defensive game, he could create offense. It was a hard thing for a young guy to buy into, when you come out of Midgets where you score a lot. But certainly, he was rewarded by not only playing the game the right way, but that offense is going to take off now and good on him.”
Bringing back two wins from Grande Prairie feels really good, says Whistle, “we didn’t go in and play their game, we stuck to our game and our systems and we came out on top.”
Tuesday the Pontiacs welcome rivals, the Lloydminster Bobcats, Whistle says that’ll be a tough match-up, “they’re playing good, we’re playing good. Hopefully, we can payback for the first two games we lost early in the season.” The Pontiacs lost to the Bobcats opening weekend, September 11 and 12.
Pontiacs meet the Bobcats Tuesday at 7:30 pm at the RJ Lalonde arena in Bonnyville