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There was lots of talk this summer about how this season was going to be different for the Bonnyville Pontiacs. Friday night’s home opener against the Sherwood Park Crusaders might have just proved it to the near sell-out crowd in the RJ Lalonde arena.
Lucas Thorne’s overtime goal left Yaks fans buzzing leaving the rink.
They’re excited for these boys.
The Crusaders scored three in the first period and disrupted many of the home team’s attempts to exit the zone. The Pontiacs tightened things up in the second period by moving their feet and drawing penalties.
That allowed their powerplay to go to work, which has scored in every game so far this season. Marc-Antione Benoit, the Drummondville Quebec product, got his first goal of the year to make the game 3-2.
“We just got to pass the puck quick and then the slot is going to get open…Morrowsy just gave me a good pass and I tucked it in,” said Benoit.
Lucas Thorne’s shorthanded goal to start the third period evened the score. That’s when goaltenders Colby Muise and Matt Berlin made save after save to keep the game knotted. The shot clock read 45-32 in the Crusaders favour.
“He hates to let in what he thought was a soft goal in the first period, and then he answered the bell in the second and third period. He came in…and was outstanding. He was definitely one of, if not the best player on the ice tonight for us in the second, third and overtime periods,” said assistant coach, Neil Langridge.
Sherwood Park won possession in the 3-on-3 overtime and looked threatening. They tried to work the seam pass through, but Bobby Young standing in front of the net alertly flipped his stick to the netminder’s side and disrupted the one-timer pass.
Then Yaks forward Ty Enns got the puck on a rush down the left flank and unleashed a slapshot that everyone, including the scorekeeper, thought was in the net. The red light came on, but the puck did not. Enns worked hard to get into his backcheck, and on the next rush, Lucas Thorne had room to operate and fired the puck past Berlin to win the game 4-3.
“Like I mentioned earlier Michael, our 20 year-olds have to be our best, and our veterans have to be their best. I thought that shift by Ty Enns was the best shift of the night. He walks in, hits the crossbar. Then what does he do, turns around and gives the best backcheck of the night to break up a 2-on-1 the other way, which enabled us to get that chance with Lucas Thorne and Bobby Young, who I thought both had great games again tonight. Thorny has two goals on the night, but the big one coming in OT. I think Pontiacs fans we’re getting used to last year with a young team. He was able to get 40 points last year. I think he’s going to surpass that with this play if he keeps it up,” said Langridge.
The Pontiacs returned to the ice Sunday afternoon to play the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and shut the doors on their northern rivals 3-0.
The Yaks will get their first taste of the southern division this week. Thursday they will play the Olds Grizzlys, and Friday night they will battle the Calgary Canucks.