The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs have wrapped up the regular season with a franchise record 40 wins, closing things on the road with a 5-4 victory of the Grande Prairie Storm. Coach Swan didn’t bask in the glory too long before dissecting the game and looking at ways to improve plays.
The Yaks came out of the gate firing with two goals in the first, Bobby McMann (Brandon Whistle and Ben Mack) and Zach Mills ( Ben Mack). “We played the first period really well,” the AJHL’s Coach of the Year explained in the second the team unraveled for just a moment and started playing individually, “which allowed us to take penalty minutes and we did things that we uncharacteristically don’t do. The second period message to our players was that we have to make sure that we create momentum going into the playoffs in the right way.”
Alden Dupuis and Kyler Hehn scored early in the second for the Pontiacs before the game got out of control. Ben Mack took two minutes for Cross-checking shortly after Luke Mahura of the Storm put an unassisted goal in the net. Mahura would score minutes later on the Mack power play to make it a 4-2 game. And for the hat trick Mahura scored a third time and assisted on another goal to tie it up, 4-4, at the end of 40.
Coach Swan slowed things down while the zamboni its job. “Our guys responded really well, considering we’d given up a four-goal lead.” Staying positive after falling from a 4-0 lead was the key explains Whistle, “we were just staying positive, coming out as if it was a 0-0 game. We just went back to how we played our last seven games on our winning streak. When people are at the bottom of the standings, sometimes they try to do their own thing. We just stuck to our structure.”
It would be Whistle from Derek Brown and Brinson Pasichnuk for the game winner in 8:48 in the second. Whistle explains, “Brinson had the puck and he brought it down the middle, passed it to me on the blue, passed it to Bob (McMann) on the D-line. Bob made a great play and passed it back to me and I scored! It was a great play, I had a wide-open net to shoot at.” The Pontiacs’ took the 5-4 win over the Grande Prairie Storm, who will not advance to the playoffs.
Our guys will have to take this lesson moving forward, so they recognize we need to play that team game in order to create the success that we want. – Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs
“Everyone’s excited, hopefully we can go to Sherwood Park, and handle them easily and keep moving on!” exclaims Whistle. The Pontiacs close the season in third position with 89 points. The club will meet the Crusaders in Round 1 of the play offs. Schedule yet to be determined as the rest of the AJHL closes out the regular season this week.