The first two home games of 2016, saw the Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs show off their depth and character, while bringing home two wins. The first on Friday night came after a fierce battle with the Wolverines that went into extra time, and Saturday’s game, was riddled with fights and back-and-forth scoring action.
Assistant Coach Mark Jensen says the squad put on a great effort on Friday evening, “I thought we played a really good game. Both teams came out to play. We had a really good first period and we gave it to them a little bit.” Zach Mills , with the help of Derek Brown, recorded the first goal of the game and the only goal in the first at 12:45. The goal wasn’t the only action in the first, the period was full of penalties, 10 penalties amounted to 22 minutes in the box.
“As the game went on, both teams had lots of chances,” says Jensen. Whitecourt came out in the second with a shorthanded goal at 3:08 from Kevin Domingue. The Wolverines were able to get two up on the Pontiacs in the second; less than 4 minutes later when Hubert Delisle put one past, goalie, Oliver Charest and then at 15:05 from Cory Santoro. The whole time, the Pontiacs were out shooting the Wolverines, says Jensen, “it’s funny how the game works sometimes. You get a little bit frustrated out there; even though we were playing well and out shooting them and getting chances, we just weren’t scoring. Seeing a big hit from Ben Mack on their captain sparked emotion on the bench. We were able to respond with two big goals and take the momentum into the third.”
The last 20 minutes of regulation Mills got the go-ahead at 5:41 from Gen Bryshun and Brinson Pasichnuk and just when the fans started to pack up, the Wolverines put in the tie at 18:54 from Erik Pedersen. It would take longer for the zamboni to clear the ice than the Pontiacs to score in OT, just 1:35 in the dream team of Bobby McMann and Brinson Pasichnuk gave the Yaks the win, with McMann getting the gino to close the game 5-4.
We teach these guys everyday, you go to the net – you get rewarded! -Mark Jensen Assistant Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
The following evening the Pontiacs took on the Camrose Kodiaks, the best team in the AJHL South Division. The game would prove to get a little nasty, but nothing the Yaks couldn’t handle, taking the 6-5 win. “Our boys really came to play early,” says Jensen, “definitely went down to the wire. We had a little bit of adversity coming into it, we knew Camrose was going to come at us hard. We didn’t expect them to be coming after our players like they did. We lost a few players, now we have to have everyone on the bench dig deep.”
The penalty summary reads like a Russian novel, long and full of conflict. At 11:28, in the first, B. Pasichnuk got into a scuffle with the Kodiak’s Ryan Rebelato. Both gentlemen getting game misconducts and five for fighting. B. Pasichnuk says it’s unfortunate when teams put a target on his back, “It’s a joke, I get jumped and I already have maxed-out fights, so I can’t drop my gloves or I’ll end up getting suspended. They ended up kicking me out anyways, if I would’ve known that, I would’ve dropped my gloves and gave him a couple.”
B. Pasichnuk, like many young players getting a lot of attention from the Pros, has a target growing on his back, the 18 year old says he could feel it on Saturday night. “Especially when coaches send their forth line guys after your top guys, you can see it. I got jumped and then our other leading scorerer, Bobby McMann gets jumped. It’s a joke. Unbelievable.” The only way to avoid these situations is to hit ’em back, says B. Pasichnuk, “what Macker [Ben Mack] did there, defending our scorerer, McMann, and hit ’em back.”
We’re not a team that’s going to let our guys get beat up, we’re going to stick up for them. -Brinson Pasichnuk #29 Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
Head Coach, Rick Swan, says Saturday’s game was one of the craziest he’s been in, “are they going to let us play, are they not going to let us. Ultimately though, we scored six goals and that was enough. We need to fix some things defensively to make sure those costly mistakes don’t keep the games as close as they are. Lots of character out there, lots of pushing, but we stepped up and pushed right back.”
Along with 68 penalty minutes in the first, there was also two Pontiac goals to get things going very early on. 1:14 McMann started it off from Hehn and Chad Hurtubise and just 28 seconds later, at 1:32, from Piche with the assist going to Borynec. Another fight in the first 20 would take Erik Donald out for a game misconduct. Coach Swan says the bench needed a little re-arranging to deal with their two top defensemen out of the game, “we sent our captain, Steen Pasichnuk, back to defense and Chaseton Braid, back to defense. It just shows the depth of our team here that we’re able to deal with that type of adversity and beat the best team in the South.”
The Kodiaks came out in the second with a goal at 2:03 from PJ Marrocco, but the Yaks didn’t let them enjoy the goal long. Borynec put a goal in at 10:33, from Mack and Piche and at 14:38, Alden Dupuis from Mills. Cole McBride, with Camrose, closed the period 4-2 for the Pontiacs with a goal at 18:47. The second period was the lowest for penalties, only 10 minutes recorded on the game sheet.
Coach Swan says the club prepares for games like these, “we do a lot of position specific work in practices. Everybody practices power play, everybody practices every situation. Unlike some philosophies, where they have their go-to guys that are in those key situations. We believe everybody should know what to do because it’ll create that depth that we require for playoffs. It’s really a practice philosophy that we have, to make sure that those guys can step in for situations, like [Saturday], when they needed to.”
It was a good character win. I think the guys felt good about the way they won. Head Coach Rick Swan Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
The third was much like the first, 49 minutes in the box and five goals on the board. Ethan James, with the Kodiaks, was the first to score in the third. Hehn and McMann would both get a goal each, and Camrose finished the game strong… just not strong enough, with two goals before the end of 60.
Gunner Neilson recorded his first AJHL career start, which turned into his first AJHL career win.
The Pontiacs are on the road next weekend, with a game on the 22nd in Spruce Grove against the Saints. January 30th, is the Letestu Jersey Retirement at the RJ LaLonde arena.