The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs lost an early lead to the Spruce Grove Saints on Friday at the RJ Lalonde Arena to ultimately lose in a shootout. Assistant Coach Mark Jensen says overall he was pleased with the effort put in by the team.
“We played hard right off the bat, didn’t give them a whole lot through the first period,” says Jensen. The Pontiacs’ Brandon Whistle scored 27 seconds into the game, off Kyler Hehn and Erik Donald. The early momentum rolled onto Bobby McMann, who with the assists from Hehn and Whistle, scored at 13:51, giving the Pontiacs the first period win.
“Into the second, we had a couple little mistakes and [the Saints] got back into the game,” says Jensen. At 12:02 Saints’ Tyler Busch scored, answered by a power play, unassisted goal from McMann at 15:18. The Saints would round out the scoring with two goals, 18:42 & 19:10, late in the second the close the period.
“Going into the third with a tied, 3-3, game against one of the top teams in Canada,” Jensen says that’s an accomplishment of its own, “we got a goal early and we need to find a way to hold onto that lead.”
The early goal came from Kyler Hehn, off Whistle and McMann at 1:23 in the third. The Pontiacs held that lead until 16:10, when the Saints’ Busch tied it up to force extra time. Extra time was not enough to close the game, causing a shootout. Pontiacs put up Whistle, Chandler Klien and Brinson Pasichnuk but were unsuccessful in getting past the Saint’s goalie. Spruce Grove’s Ian Mitchel was the lone scorer of the shootout and all the Saints needed to take the win.
We don’t like those guys very much – Bobby McMann #9 Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
The line of McMann, Whistle, and Hehn saw a lot of success over the evening, each player picked up three points and all four goals were scored off the line. “A couple of their goals came off face-off plays that have been worked on,” but it’s not just the drills learned in practice, says Jensen, “they’re all creative players, that’s the bottom line. When they get out there, they’re not sticking to the same pattern. Every time they’re on the ice, they’re going to try something new. They’ve all got a tremendous amount of skill and they’ve started to develop some chemistry. You see them play against Spruce Grove, and that’s one of the top teams in Canada, they’re all able to get three points.”
McMann says the line generated success by working together, “[Whistle] was going a good job at winning the draws, we were converging on pucks, shooting it and going to the net. Luckily, it was going in for us tonight.”
“If you look at tonight’s game, two against Whitecourt in the last few weeks, as well as, Sherwood Park, those are all games that we feel we played well enough to win,” Jensens says the club was able to take some of those games to extra time, picking up points for the games. “We need to learn the next lesson, which is finishing those games off and getting two points.”
“When it comes down to a shootout it can go either way, it’s kinda a 50-50 thing,” McMann explains the loss stings a little.
The team is heading on a four game, five day road trip down south, starting Tuesday with a game against the Calgary Mustangs. Jensen says it’ll be good for the boys to get away on the road together, “we’ve played a lot of hockey so far, come up on Christmastime, we’ll have played 40 of our 60 games, which is a lot of hockey. These road trips we have every year, four games in five nights is a lot of fun for the boys, they get to bond and see some rinks and teams we don’t see a whole lot.”
It’s a good opportunity for us to get closer as a team – Mark Jensen Assistant Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
McMann echos Assistant Coach Jensen, “it’s usually pretty fun and brings us closer. And if we get a couple wins, it bumps us up in the standings real quick.” The Pontiacs play Calgary on Tuesday, Canmore Wednesday, Brooks Friday, and Drumheller Saturday before returning home to meet rivals the Lloydminster Bobcats on Wednesday, December 2nd.