The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs raised their sticks to thank the fans last night at the RJ Lalonde Arena, as the said goodbye to the 2017-18 season. After falling three games in their best of five series against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, the Pontiacs’ post-season is over.
“It never gets easier,” Head Coach, of the Pontiacs, Rick Swan said following a 3-2 game 3 loss to the Oil Barons, that ended the Yaks season. “We know at the end of every season there’s emotion attached to it, because of the relationships.”
One of the reasons Swan said he enjoys coaching is, “being involved with character kids that are tremendously committed to bettering themselves. As a Bonnyville Pontiac, not only are they committed to bettering themselves on the ice and in gym the everyday, so they can fulfill individual dreams, but what these guys do is take it the next step and beyond.”
The Bonnyville Pontiacs commit themselves to giving back to the community, through volunteerism, mentoring, and citizenship. A Pontiac is a well-rounded individual, said the coach. “Our guys, literally, want to enhance the community in which we live.” In the eight month season the players will give 2000+ hours to the community, “to ensure they leave Bonnyville in a better place then they found it.”
Swan says he has a plan for the team and it started with this year. He’s building from the youth up, “I’ve been fortunate that we have a great Board and great fans that have supported [the plan] to go young. We can’t thank you enough for your support and patience.”
It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had as a coach – Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs
Sunday evening the fans came out to watch the team in a must-win situation against the Oil Barons. The team fell in game 1 (3-2 double OT) and game 2 (7-1).
The Yaks battle hard, after going down three goals in the first 45 minutes of play. With less than two minutes on the clock, team Captain Charlie Gawlicki , with help of Assistant Captain, Riley Smith, put in two late game goals. The effort, though valiant was not enough to save the team. It was a 3-2 final.
Both Gawlicki and Smith are part of the graduating class and said goodbye to their junior careers at the sound of the buzzer.
“That’s the last time these individuals are ever going to be together. There’ll be different groups of them, but this is the last time they’ll be a group,” the coach says post-game it was emotional in the Yaks dressing room.
It made me a better person to be around such committed, young athletes, that have the potential to be elite. It’s been a tremdously rewarding experience for me. I’m a better coach because of than I ever was in my whole life because of the people I got to experience it with. – Rick Swan Head Coach Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs
The team will host an awards banquet to honour the graduating players and shine the spotlight on some outstanding team members. The banquet will serve as a last opportunity for the club to say goodbye to each other before moving forward into the 2018-19 season.
Lakeland Connect would like to thank the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs organization for allowing us to experience the season with them. Game Ready Photography for supplying us with game photos throughout the season. To Lake City Coach, Rapid Response Energy Services and Ducharme Motors for allowing to bring exclusive player and coach interviews to the fans.