The Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs took a win and a loss on the weekend, as they welcomed the Drayton Valley Thunder and the Fort McMurray Oil Baron. The win came on Friday against the Thunder, in a match a match Head Coach Rick Swan described as “not pretty”. On Saturday, the team had the fans on the edge of their seat with a tied game up until the last minute, when the Oil Baron would get the game winner on the power play.
Game 1 vs Drayton Valley
The Pontiacs fired first, at 1:46 in the first period, against the Thunder on Friday evening, with a power play goal from fan favourite, PJ Marrocco. Assists going to Derek Brown and Nicholas Ormon. Drayton Valley responded nine minutes later, also on the power play, when Vincent Beaudry from Ethan Green put in a goal. Not happy to leave the period tied, Lucas Thorne popped in an unassisted beauty just seconds later. The period closed 2-1 for the Yaks.
In his first game back after a few weeks on the injury list, Isaac Saniga was able to assist Derek Brown early in the second, for a power play goal. “As a team, we’re playing pretty well, but we can keep going. We can’t take [Drayton Valley] lightly, even if they’re at the bottom of the standing,” Saniga says the goal for Friday’s match is to keep the pressure on the Thunder. “We’re going to move the puck, take lots of shots, make sure we’re finishing our checks.”
The remainder of the second would be a back and forth battle, with Drayton Valley’s Max McPeak answering back at 3:12. Followed by a Pontiacs’ goal, unassisted by Carson Erhardt and another DV goal from Trevor Ayre to make it a 4-3 game, after 40 minutes of play. “We have to match their intensity and beat them with our shots,” forward Lucas Thorne says the team is going have to fire away in the third to come out of the game with the win. “We’re definitely the better team out there and as long as we keep to our structure and match their intensity and effort, we’ll walk away with the win.”
The Pontiacs matched Drayton Valley in the third waiting until 19:13 to put in an empty netter, from Kash Rasmussen, with assists to Kirby Proctor and Nicholas Ormon. “It wasn’t a pretty win,” says Head Coach Rick Swan, “when things don’t go your way, guys can revert back to their old habits. And when you revert back to old habits, you get away from your structure. That allowed a hard working team, like Drayton Valley to be involved in the game, for too long.” Satisfied to take the 5-3 win, Coach Swan says the message heading into Saturday’s match up will be to stick the framework of the team’s structure.
Game 2 vs Fort McMurray
The Oil Barons were in town on Saturday, giving the Pontiacs a chance to show of their skills and speed. A low scoring game, took until the final minutes of play to be decided, 2-1 for the Oil Barons.
Will Conley had an unassisted goal for Fort Mac in the first, it would be the sole point for the first twenty. Defenseman, Kirby Proctor, said the shots were there, but the back of the net was hard to find, “we’ve got momentum coming, we’re one bounce, one shot to tie the game up.” On the blue line, Proctor says he’ll continue to be fast on the play, “move pucks quick, get the puck up to the play, as quick as possible. Get some pucks through the net and create opportunities for my teammates.”
The game battled on into the second with only one goal resulting. This time the honours went to the Yaks, 34 seconds into the period with a power play goal from a left over penalty in the first. Derek Brown took the goal point, while Adam Sandstrom took the assist. Brown explains the goal, “I saw Sandstrom down low during the power play, he moved the puck up and I decided to take my ice. I came down and fanned on it, then I saw the opening and I put it through.” As an assistant captian, Brown plays a big role in leading the team through the tough matches, “we try our best to inspire them. At the same time, it’s something they have to be inspired from. If you’re not motivated to play a team like Fort Mac, then you should be here. Everybody’s got to do their own part and we do our best to get [the younger players] hyped up and in to it.”
The Pontiacs were in the play for the third, until an unfortunate cross-checking penalty by Zach Aston , with two minutes left in the game, would allow an Oil Baron game from Merritt Oszytko, to close the game 2-1.
The Pontiacs head on the road for the remainder of the month, starting Tuesday with the Canmore Eagles.