Pontiacs vs Crusaders in Round 1 of AJHL Playoffs

Pontiacs Shutout back to back Opponents to End Season

The Bonnyville Pontiacs found themselves with an opportunity to finish the season on a high note after ending February with a loss to the Spruce Grove Saints. Two games remained in the regular season headed into March; both games were on the road. First up were the Drayton Valley Thunder, and the second matchup was against the Grande Prairie Strom. Bonnyville won both games via shutouts.

The 5-0 win against the Thunder was an offensive show. The Pontiacs piled up 54 shots on net. Stewart, Dupuis, Gawlicki, Smith and Morrocco all tallied a goal in the game. Mitchell Oliver had two assists. Robert Jacobsen stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout.

The final game of the regular season saw the Pontiacs roll into Grande Prairie. The Yaks offense once more came out to prove they were ready for playoffs. Bonnyville directed 37 shots on goal and scored on three of them. Aston, Gawlicki, and Oliver scored the goals for Bonnyville. Aston scored his first goal of the season in the game. Sandro Silvestre had a quiet night between the pipes, but was sharp and turned away all 13 shots he faced.

“We had great goaltending. I think the team played well.I think we played really well to finish the season on a strong note.” Pontiacs Head Coach Rick Swan said.

The Pontiacs now head into the first round of the AJHL playoffs. They will play the Sherwood Park Crusaders starting Thursday, March 9th at the RJ Lalonde Arena. Bonnyville finished fourth in the AJHL North Division with a record of 37-19-4. The Cursaders finished with a 32-25-3 record good for fifth. Bonnyville holds the season series 4-2.

“We’re 99% happy (with our defensive zone play). If we move the puck, we’re going to be okay.” Rick Swan spoke of where the team is at heading into playoffs.

Bonnyville is led by a couple of goal scorers in Alden Dupuis, Derek Brown and PJ Morrocco. The three combined for 78 goals this season. Sherwood Park’s offense is carried by Ty Readman and Tyler Maltby who both put up 68 points this year. Sherwood Park was -2 in goal differential this year, while Bonnyville was a top 4 club in that department with a +69.

“It’s amazing the confidence you can get as a coach knowing you can put a Ryan Piche out there because he’ll do it right. That’s what veteran leadership does for your hockey club.” Coach Swan spoke of the importance of Ryan Piche getting back in the lineup for playoffs.

Goaltending is going to be crucial for both teams going into this first round matchup. Sandro Silvestre and Robert Jacobsen have been stellar for the Pontiacs. Both goalies have a goals against average near 2.50. It appears that Sherwood Park will be leaning on affiliate goaltenders to start the series.

A couple special notes for Thursday and Friday’s home playoff games:

Thursday – Mike German will be dropping the ceremonial puck.

Friday – The Pontiacs will retire Jon Kalinski’s jersey.

“It’s going to be a tough series. It will be whoever gets momentum early is going to grab onto it. Sherwood Park has done that to us before. They play hard, and have some skilled players.” Coach Swan said.

:Lakeland Connect will have you covered Thursday, as Husband Chad will bring you live reports from game 1 at the RJ Thanks to NCSG Scorpion Industries and Lake City Coach.