Pontiacs clinch, look ahead to playoffs

Photo Credit: Game Ready Photography 

The Pontiacs have clinched a playoff spot. By defeating the Grande Prairie Storm 3-0 on Saturday night, they officially put themselves out of reach of the last-place Drayton Valley Thunder to secure a spot in the 2018 post-season.

Bobby Young scored nice and early to put the Pontiacs on the scoreboard three minutes into the game, setting the pace for a solid game for Bonnyville. Young and his linemates were involved in each of the game’s three goals. The Pontiacs were solid at both ends of the ice through the entire game, holding the Storm to eight shots in the first period.

Bonnyville was given a four-minute power play early in period two off a high-sticking penalty. The Pontiacs set up in the Grande Prairie end, and Isaac Saniga got the puck from Olson Werenka and Luke Albert, scoring to give them a solid power play goal and a 2-0 lead. Under a minute-and-a-half later, Adam Panacci scored the Pontiacs’ third and final goal.

There was still plenty of action during the rest of the game, including fights at the end of the second and beginning of the third periods. But strong defense and excellent goaltending on the part of Justin Travis kept the Storm to 24 shots and no goals.

“I think we played an excellent game,” coach Neil Langridge said. “We knew going in that a win would clinch a playoff spot for us, and it was important for us to clinch with a win rather than just relying on Drayton Valley to lose.

Coach Langridge credits his goaltender and his starting line for the win:

“For Travis to put up a goose egg and get a shutout is a great sign, and he played very well. and our first line with Bobby Young, Isaac Saniga, and Lucas Thorne was excellent as well.”

The Pontiacs will now hit the road to wrap up the season with consecutive games in Drayton Valley.

“There’s still a chance that we could catch and pass Lloydminster in the standings at this point,” Langridge said. “Obviously, we’re in the playoffs but if we can get in a better spot than just sneaking in, that would be ideal. We’ll be in good shape either way. We’ve got a few guys out with the flu right now, and our captain Charlie Gawlicki is out with an upper-body injury. But all those guys should be back by the time that playoffs begin.”

Currently, the Pontiacs are in line to play the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in round one of the playoffs. But if the Pontiacs win their final two games, and if the Lloydminster Bobcats lose their final three games, then Bonnyville would play the Whitecourt Wolverines.

JD Schmidt

JD is a reporter who works with Lakeland Connect to bring you the most reliable and honest news that he possibly can. He understands the effective combination of accurate reporting and fine journalistic writing.