The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs beat rivals the Lloydminster Bobcats, at the Civic Centre in Lloydminster, Wednesday evening. Head Coach, Rick Swan happy to shake two monkeys off his back with the win; the pesky Lloyd monkey and that unpredictable shootout monkey.
“There were both challenges and opportunities out there, which is a great thing for our guys” reports Coach Swan, “especially, knowing that we played an awful lot of hockey against a lot of good teams, here in this past little while. Which is a great thing, because it gets us acclimatized to what we’re going to be facing in February.” The Pontiacs have been on the road since November 24th and have one more game, tonight in Fort McMurray before they return home for a Saturday game against Grande Prairie.
When you do good things out there, you’re eventually going to get rewarded – Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
Wednesday’s game in Lloydminster was a true testament of the “hard work pays off” mentality the Pontiacs have been focused on all year. The first period was scoreless, with lots of attention on play, no penalties were called for the first 20. Opening the second it got rough early with a 10 minute misconduct and 2 minute checking from behind given to Bobcats’ Zac Giroux.
The Bobcats were first in the bad boy box and first to score, at 14:43. The Pontiacs answered back, with a beauty from Zach Mills from Derek Brown. Mills has been very successful the past two weeks, recording his first AJHL hattrick on November 27th versus Brooks. The box saw another visitor, before the end of 40, Lloyd’s Greg Moro spent some time re-thinking a trip.
“Our guys recognize with a quick-pressure team, like Lloydminster, they gotta move the puck,” states Coach Swan, “decisions have to be made, in terms of a puck management situation, efficiently. You do that by creating trust and you create trust by staying within the framework of the structure. We didn’t get down, and it shows our character to this group, that we stuck with it for the entire 60 minutes.”
The game flipped like pancakes, with Lloyd putting one in the net at 12:17 in the third, and the Pontiacs responding quickly at 14:39 from Brandon Whistle from Bobby McMann and Ben Mack. The Pontiacs’ only penalty came in the third when Ryan Symington got 2 minutes for slashing. Lloydminster got another 2 minutes from Kevin Dararr for tripping.
“It’s never going to be perfect out there,” Coach Swan explains the Lloyd game was a perfect example, “if we don’t ignore the good that’s happening out there and we inspiring the positives of what guys are doing out there, then we’ll never allow ourselves to spiral into the negative.” Despite the man advantage Lloydminster was able to hold off the Pontiacs’ forth-best in the AJHL, 23.81 power play percentage. “We have a saying in the locker room,” Coach Swan believes in the mental game as much as the psychical, “expect and see equals positive results
The game went into extra time and then a shootout; which would become the Pontiacs’ first shootout win of the season, goalie Oliver Charest was very pleased with the outcome, “I’m really happy. It feels good for once to win in a shootout. It’s kinds a goalie battle, especially when it’s against my good buddy, Leclerc.” Charest and Lloydminster’s goaltender, Alex Leclerc are good friends from back home in Quebec and it was a great challenge to play against a friend, says Charest. “we’ve played hockey together since we were about 14, we’ve been working out together every summer. I consider him a brother, for sure. He lives 15 minutes away from my place, in Quebec. So we’re pretty close.”
How great was that, that we were finally able to win in a shootout, against a team that just won in a shootout the last time we played them. Happy for our goaltender and extremely happy for our guys who competed so hard tonight – Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs