The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs enjoyed a break from games this week, after playing 22 games in six weeks. Associate Coach, Larry Draper, says the past month and a half the squad has been working hard, and bringing home the Ws with a 13-7-2 record that has them sitting nicely in forth in the AJHL North Standings.
“The last six weeks have been tough on the guys,” says Draper, “we have a lot of guys injured.” Some key players took the week to recover; including Captian, Steen Pasichnuk and veterans Bobby McMann, Ryan Piche, Josh Borynec, and Gen Bryshun. Rookie Brandon Whistle was also injured but is looking like he will be game ready for Whitecourt Friday.
“On the positive side, Brinson Pasichnuk got the Player of the Month for the AJHL,” an impressive feet for the 17 year old high school senior, says Draper. The younger of the Pasichnuk’s will be celebrating his 18th birthday on the 24th of this month. “He’s doing really well,” with 28 points in 22 games, Brinson records 20 assistants and 8 goals.
Draper is proud of his entire squad and the lengths the team goes to give back to the community; on November 2nd the team participated in the Columbus House of Hope’s Walk of Hope to support awareness towards domestic violence. The team was also out on Halloween, helping the kids cross the streets and keeping the trick-or-treaters safe.
“Rick [Swann, Head Coach] and I really appreciate what they do for the community,” says Draper, “we’re very proud of them.” It also helps forge bonds with the town, explains Draper, “what’s happening now, is the boys are starting to take pride in it. They’re starting to feel like Bonnyville’s home. That’s important, doing that in the community helps you feel like you belong.” Many players come from other towns and taking part in community events helps them feel at home. “After a while they take great pride in doing what’s right.”
There may not have been games this past week, but the team certainly hit the ice and ran through drills, says Draper. “We’re still at it and there’s still things to work on. Friendly reminders to the guys to play the right way, we’ll be ready to go on Friday, when we head to Whitecourt.”
Many of the injured, McMann, Piche, and Bryshun, are expected to play Friday, assures Draper, “Steen Pasichnuk is day-to-day, looks like a high-ankle sprain. Hopefully, that’ll get better in a hurry.”
The club beat Whitecourt 3-0 on September 22nd when the teams last met. The Wolverines are one point ahead of the Pontiacs in the standings. Draper says success for the team has come by focusing on the process of the game, rather than the win. “We have to focus on the process, making a difference each and every shift.” It’s not just on ice and game day, says Draper, “the players have to manage their sleep and nutrition, each individual has to prepare himself to go out there and win battles. They gotta win one-on-one battles and in order to do that, you have to manage what you do every day. Preparation, attitude and a work ethic.”
“These guys will make a huge step forward,” states Draper, who explains the squad will take what they’ve learned from recent losses, 3-2 OT shootout loss to Lloydminster on October 28th, and a 4-1 loss to Sherwood Park on October 30th.
Pontiacs meet the Wolverines in Whitecourt Friday, then return home Sunday for a 2:00 pm game versus Fort McMurray Oil Barons.