Image credit: http://gamereadyphotography.com. Bonnyville Pontiacs forward Ethan Leyer works to keep the puck away from Spruce Grove Saints defender Cory Babichuk in Saturday’s Game 2 matchup at the RJ Lalonde arena.
The Bonnyville Pontiacs head to Spruce Grove facing the toughest challenge of their season – down two games to zero.
Game 2 ended 4-3 after Jordan Biro sent the puck in front of the net and it bounced off of the Pontiacs in front and in for the double overtime winner.
It was a tough pill to swallow after two intense periods of scoreless hockey and great chances at either end of the rink.
The Pontiacs felt like they deserved a better fate as they stormed out to a 3-0 first period lead.
Pontiacs post-game with Rick Swan
“Yeah it was a greasy goal and that’s usually what happens in playoffs,” said Coach Rick Swan.
“Guys are going to get pucks to the net, it might be a bad bounce, may be a bad rebound, but I think guys thought they deserved a little bit better fate, esepcially with how they came on in the third period and in the first overtime,”
“I think it was a tremendous response from us even though the shot clock wouldn’t reflect that,” said Swan.
“We’re down two and as a coach you’re always disappointed because we’re all competitive guys and you wanna win every time that you’re out there, but you’re less disappointed if you guys start to do the right things.”
The Pontiacs rode a wave of momentum in the latter half of the first period when the Saints got into penalty trouble and Ethan Leyer and Cayden Kraus scored powerplay goals within a minute of each other.
However, the period ended 3-1 when the Saints’ Logan Ganie roofed a wicked wrister past Colby Muise’s glove. It was just one of 49 shots for the Saints in five periods.
In the second period, the Saints began celebrating when Mackenzie Harden banged the puck past the goal line, but the red light did not go off, the net was off its moorings, and neither referee signalled a goal.
It appeared that the officials temporarily waved off the goal inside the arena, but then play resumed 3-2.
Thirty seconds later, Dylan Bourlai rushed in the Yaks zone and scored from MacGregor and Babichuk to tie the game, while Marc Benoit and Pontiacs seemed to still be confused about what had happened moments before.
The game was scoreless for the next 54 minutes.
“They felt they weren’t in good enough position to be able to see the net off, said Swan.
“They weren’t able to make a determination whether the puck was in the net before the net was pushed off, or whether the net was off before the puck was in. I live with that because we’re all human.
“At least they’re able to communicate that to us, which hasn’t always happened in the past. I thought the referees did a heckuva job today,” said Swan.
Scott McKenzie’s return to the lineup
Scott McKenzie’s return to the lineup was felt with Bobby Young and Cayden Kraus. Swan matched the line with Parker Saretsky’s line and played them tight while at even strength.
Swan said McKenzie was a spark, also adding an assist on Young’s first of the game.
Isaac Saniga and Noah Lugli both left Game 2 early with upper-body injuries, so there will be a chance for Jackson Hogg to return the lineup. Garin Butler is also expected to be ready soon from his groin injury.
The Saints have outshot the Pontiacs by a wide margin in each contest and now return home, a place where the Yaks haven’t yet lost.
“They don’t know what’s coming for them when we get to Spruce Grove. We’ll be ready,” said Yaks d-man Victor Polowy.
“We’re will be back here Bonnyville. We’ll be back here to play next week because our guys will come back and they’ll make sure of it,” said Swan.
Game 3 is tonight at 7:30pm in Spruce Grove and Game 4 is Tuesday.