Marc-Antoine Benoit scored the equalizer with under three minutes left and then roofed the game-winner in overtime as the Bonnyville Pontiacs defeated the CJHL’s top-ranked team in the Brooks Bandits 4-3 giving them just their second loss of the season.
The Pontiacs followed that up with a 4-1 Sunday afternoon against the Camrose Kodiaks to sweep the season series against the South Division foe and improve their record to 15-6-2 in 3rd place in the North Division.
The win on Saturday night cemented to the Pontiacs one thing – they can play with, and beat, the top teams in the AJHL because they know they can get stops.
“A gutsy effort. Great goaltending from Easton Hesse. That save in overtime, that breakaway at the bench play that they ran against us was just a terrific save,” said Coach Rick Swan.
“If we play the right way, we’re a pretty good hockey team. We know we’re a team that’s trying to build to where we want to be by the end.”
Early lead, but comeback effort
On Saturday night, the Pontiacs leaped out to an early lead thanks to Jaden York who created a shorthanded breakaway for himself and roofed the buck over Pierce Charleson to make it 1-0.
Ethan Sundar scored his first goal as a Bonnyville Pontiacs off of a double deflection in front to get the two=-goal lead in the intermission, but the Brooks Bandits answered back with a pair to finish the second period tied 2-2.
Then, a high shot that looked to be tipped in with a high stick was allowed with just over nine minutes left in the third period
Marc Benoit continued his hot streak though to get the game-tying goal and the growing chemistry with linemates Kash Rasmussen and newcomer Bruce MacGregor showed as both picked up assists on the marker.
Easton Hesse only had to make one save in overtime, but it was a breakaway which Hesse shut down.
He made 29 saves in another outstanding effort.
Pontiacs hang on against Camrose
Bonnyville was right back at it for an afternoon start against the Camrose Kodiaks and survived a third-period push to secure the two points.
It was another game the Pontiacs can be fortunate to have Easton Hesse between the pipes, who made 33 saves as the Pontiacs were outshot.
“It all comes down to work. We have to be willing to play selfless because if I play selfless, then I’m playing for the guy next to me,” said Swan.
Curtis Hammond scored his second goal of the season to break the ice and Lucas Thorne got his 11th of the season to tie Marc Benoit for the team lead in goals.
Bruce MacGregor added two third-period goals to shut the door on the Kodiaks who fall to 10-11-2 on their season.
The Pontiacs are home for a pair of games against the Whitecourt Wolverines on Friday and Saturday night.
It will be the final meetings of the season for the North Division rivals and each team has won two games in the season series.
The Bonnyville Pontiacs will enter the games six points up on the Wolverines.