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Daine Dubois’ goal in the second period turned the game for the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
The Pontiacs won Game 1 by a convincing 5-1 score in the end with another game characteristic of the team’s great depth – multiple scorers on multiple lines creating offense.
But Dubois’ goal just over five minutes into the second period opened the floodgates and restored the Yaks confidence after a tense start.
He toe-dragged rookie defender Will Spitzer and was all alone in front of Whitecourt goaltender Ryley Osland. Dubois ripped the puck five-hole, the Pontiacs took the lead, and didn’t look back.
“It was an awesome chip by Constable. He got it right to me, and that’s where I started. Just carried it up the wall. Saw an opening and took it. Lucky enough to finish,” said Dubois about the goal that electrified the Pontiacs faithful at the RJ Lalonde Arena.
It was much needed after a first period riddled with what Dubois called “first period jitters.”
Whitecourt outshot the Yaks 17-9 and scored the period’s only goal when Spencer Augot sent the puck off the end wall behind Colby Muise before it squirted back in front, going off the netminder and in.
“The thing that was brought up was not too high not too low,” said Dubois about the first intermission discussion.
“That’s playoffs. Not every bounce is gonna go your way. I like the way be bounced back and it’s just a character win.”
It was a five-goal second period for Bonnyville that validated Colby Muise’s solid early play.
Despite some early rebounds, Muise was stellar and tracked the net very well. The Wolverines were stymied twice in the third period with tremendous Muise glove saves. He finished with a 34 save night.
“That start that we had had it not been for Colby Muise, it would’ve been a different story. We’re lucky that he played so well,” said Coach Rick Swan.
“I know that if we played another team in the league maybe we don’t come out just being down 1-0.”
Joel Ray got the Pontiacs started three minutes into the second period. The spark plug, or “Razor,” kept driving toward the net with Marc Benoit and finished what the Flying Frenchmen started to break the ice.
The Pontiacs were reinvigorated.
Then Dubois stole the show with his dipsy-dandy-doodle move.
Cayden Kraus popped his first of the playoffs past Osland shortly after.
Grayson Constable and Isaac Saniga scored goals late in the second frame to cement the first win of what the Pontiacs hope will be a long playoff run.
Jackson Hogg earned two assists and spoke candidly after the game about the change of scenery since being a Pontiacs deadline day acquisition from the Calgary Canucks – a team in a vastly different situation this season.
“Playing here is polar opposite. They play the systems and it just makes hockey so fun. I’m so excited to come to the rink and get on the ice and play with these guys,” said Hogg.
The Pontiacs have not lost to the Wolverines all season long, improving to 7-0 regular season and playoffs combined.
But Rick Swan would look to see a much period start to Game 2 tonight because if the Pontiacs were playing a better North division opponent – they might not have been let off the hook so easily.
“Playoff hockey is about getting pucks 200 feet from your net and then going to work. And then we’re taking guys one-on-one. We were reverting to that infamous five-game slide about trying to get individual.
“We need to get back to work and we need to get simple.”