Lucas Thorne and fellow Pontiacs march of out the dressing room during a game in 2018-19. Image credit: Game Ready Photography.
It’s been an active summer for Bonnyville Pontiacs coach and general manager Rick Swan.
In the past month, Swan has worked to fill the gaps left behind the six exiting 1998′ born leaders from last year’s Pontiacs team (Constable, Muise, Thomson, Albert, Young, Monk).
The Pontiacs have done a lot of work on the blueline acquiring defenceman Alex Marrocco from the Chilliwack Chiefs and signing two Calgary Mustangs Josh Kroon, who was named to the AJHL Junior Club World Cup team, and Cayden Shymr.
Thomas Kramer, Boston College Prep high school player of the year, is also eagerly anticipated by the Pontiacs brass.
“We’re extremely happy with our recruiting. Our league has a minimum mandate of having five 18-year-olds and under in the lineup every single night. Ethan Leyer would’ve been our only returning player. We have to have five kids on the roster so it really forces our league to make sure we’re focused on development with our young players, but also to have enough young players to go through the grind of a 60 game AJHL schedule,” said Rick Swan.
“The players you talked about are about ability, a community invested individual that understands that playing with the Bonnyville Pontiacs isn’t just about playing on the ice, it’s about living in our community and embracing the fact that we’re a community invested organization.”
Not only do the Pontiacs have to worry about the 18-year-olds and younger, but they also have a 20-year-old crunch as well.
The Pontiacs will have to ship out two of their 1999 born players before the season begins.
Swan says the team won’t rush to make those decisions.
“It’s very difficult when you go through a season that you work so hard to build for last year. We broke the franchise record for wins, franchise record for least goals-against, the first time we’ve ever been in the top 3 in our 28-year franchise history, to try and now work on elevating from last year, because our standard and expectation are higher than it’s ever been before.
“Forty-one wins is our standard, that’s our franchise record now. We want to make sure we have the right players coming in so that we’re able to build upon last season. But those are difficult tough decisions to try and make for next year,” said Swan.
“We go through every day saying we don’t want to move our guys, though you’re going to have to make a tough decision…we don’t have to rush either.”
Recently acquired 99′ born players Devon Cyr and Noah Bankowski from Kindersley in the Ty Enns trade, have been traded away for future considerations as well, said Swan.
Cyr is now an Estavan Bruin, while Bankowski does not have a new destination reported.
Swan said the Pontiacs will have six 1999 born players when the season begins.
“We feel we’ve got six players that should be our six best players on our team. Part of our make up is to talk to each individual. Some kids want to go to school, some kids will prefer to go back to BCHL or prefer different organizations. We want to put guys in a good spot.”
Colby Muise and Jackson Hogg commit to NCAA
More of last season’s Bonnyville Pontiacs have found NCAA scholarships.
Colby Muise has agreed to go to NCAA Marion University Sabres for 2019-20 after a great season and playoffs with the Pontiacs.
Muise was the 9th NCAA commitment this season and the Yaks 64th since 2014.
Jackson Hogg, deadline acquisition from the Calgary Canucks in early 2019, has found a new home at NCAA Div. III Bethel College Royals for 2019-20.
The Royals are based out of Blaine, Minnesota and play in the MIAC conference.