The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs fit in three games over the week, starting on Wednesday in Spruce Grove. The club fell 6-2 on the road, against the Saints and brought it home to the RJ Lalonde Arena for Friday night. The crowd was rip and full of excitement as the team took down the Camrose Kodiaks 3-2. They could not keep the wins coming into Saturday, falling 2-1 to the Brooks Bandits.
Game 1 vs Spruce Grove
The Saints out shot and out scored the Pontiacs in the Wednesday night game in Spruce Grove. 35 shots to the Yaks’ 24 was enough to excel the Saints to a 6-2 victory. Isaac Saniga took home the Game Star for the Pontiacs, with an assist on a late-in-the-game power play goal from Lucas Thorne. The veteran player was strong throughout the entire game.
The Pontiacs played catch-up in the game, down by four goals by the middle of the second. Kirby Proctor from Kash Rasmussen put up the first goal for the team before the close of the second. The third was much like the second, two goals for the Saints and one for the Yaks to make it a 6-2 final.
“At all times, you want to make sure you’re making the playoffs,” Assistant Coach Neil Langridge says with a 13 point lead on the 8th place team, the Pontiacs are still in a good position to make the playoffs, “I want everyone on the team to really excel in the last part of the season. I think everyone is going to see them come alive for the playoffs”.
Game 2 vs Camrose
“It’s going to be a hard-fought battle with the Camrose Kodiaks here. We play them twice, every year. Last time we went to their barn and had a 2-1 victory,” Langridge never lets the past decide the future, but is confident in the club on Friday. His confidence paid off with a 3-2 victory for the Pontiacs.
Starting off the first period, the team killed a 5 on 3 penalty. The major kill really set the tone for the game. Lucas Thorne put in a power play goal at the 7:10 mark in the first, from Luke Albert and Ryley Hogan. The goal was followed up by defenseman Olson Werenka giving the Yaks a 2-0 lead heading out of the first. Joel Ray and Kash Rasmussen picked up the apples on the second goal.
“We needed that,” Kash Rasmussen says the penalty kill really revved up the team, “we gained some energy on the bench and started turning things around for our team. We popped in a couple of greasy ones (goals) and we’ve just gotta keep things going.” The 16 year old left winger kept up his energy, helping out with the next Pontiac goal; from Zach Aston at 14:50 in the second. Also assisting on the goal was Lucas Thorne.
About a minute later, Camrose’s McKenzie Welke put in an unassisted goal to close the period 3-1, in favour of the Yaks. “We’re playing great, the first period really set the mood for us,” Adam Panacci explains the players are feeding off each other’s energy. “We need to continue it into the third and we should grabbing the W”. The third period proved to be a battle for the back of the net. Despite putting up 11 shots to Camrose’s 4, in the 20 minutes of play, the Kodiaks put in the last goal of the game. It was a 3-2 final for the Yaks.
“Nice for us to win a one-goal game, versus us losing a one-goal game,” laughs Head Coach of the Bonnyville Pontiacs, Rick Swan. The Pontiacs have 15 one-goal losses… which is now 16 after the Saturday night game against Brooks.
Game 3 vs. Brooks
One-goal losses, that could go either way, seem to be the theme for the Pontiacs this season. Head Coach, Rick Swan, “if even half of those go your way, certainly the standings go different.” Coming off a one-goal win, the night before, the Pontiacs found themselves at the other side of things Saturday evening, with a 2-1 defeat to the Brooks Bandits.
The Bandits put up the first two goals, one in the first and another in the second. The Pontiacs waited until 12 seconds left in the game to put in a goal. The goal came in from Luke Albert, with the assist from Olson Werenka and Bobby Young.
“I want to focus on our effort,” Coach Swan says he really liked what he saw from his team, saying the Bandits are the standard of an elite team in the AJHL. “Brooks is top four, they are going to have a chance to play for a championship in the AJHL. Our young team put in the effort and they feel bad that they are that close.” Coach explains the team is where they need to be, “I really believe in these guys and I know that the situations, these guys are put in, are really going to further their development.”
With 15 more games on the schedule, the coach believes fans will start to see this club explode with talent. Up next for the Yaks is a Tuesday night game in Fort McMurray. That will be followed at home by a Saturday game versus Spruce Grove and a Sunday matinee games versus Fort McMurray. You can catch exclusive player and coach interviews on Lakeland Connect’s Facebook Page, thanks to Lake City Coach, Rapid Response Energy Services and Ducharme Motors.