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Bonnyville Pontiacs emphasize team building amidst long road trip

The Bonnyville Pontiacs enjoy a team meal at Kim and Tina Rasmussen’s house (parents of Pontiac Kash Rasmussen) in Cochrane on Wednesday. Image credit: Rick Swan.

The Bonnyville Pontiacs enjoyed a day of team building in Banff yesterday during their off-day while on the road.

Staying in Canmore for the week, it gives the group of 23 players a chance to gel together as the season nears the halfway point.

After tonight’s game in Okotoks and Saturday’s against the Canmore Eagles, the Pontiacs will have 29 games under their belt, exactly midway through their schedule.

Breeze through Canucks

Noah Amundson stopped all 26 shots for his second shutout and Daine Dubois continued his scoring hot streak in the Pontiacs 6-0 against the Calgary Canucks on Wednesday.

Kash Rasmussen and Daine Dubois each had three points, Joel Ray scored his third of the season and the Pontiacs powerplay lit the lamp in three of four attempts.

The top line of Lucas Thorne, Matt McKim, and Daine Dubois has scored 18 combined points in the past three games.

The Pontiacs sweep the season-series against the Canucks who sit last in the AJHL South Division.

Bonnyville was not as fortunate the night before in Olds as the Grizzlys upset the Pontiacs 6-3.

Noah Hackett scored four times in a row in under 15 minutes in the second and third period as Bonnyville’s inability to beat netminder Duncan Hughes early in the game cost them.

Matt McKim scored early, but the Grizzlys ability to make the most of their opportunities eventually opened the floodgates in the third period as Bonnyville pushed for a comeback.

Test in Okotoks

One of the biggest road games of the season for the Bonnyville Pontiacs is tonight against the Okotoks Oilers (23-3-2) in the only regular-season visit to the Pason Centennial Arena.

The Oilers have the second-most points in the AJHL, tied with the Sherwood Park Crusaders.

Easton Hesse will return between the pipes after a two-game break.

He has a 13-7-2 record with a 2.59 goals against average and a .920 save percentage.

Notes

In the Pontiacs four games against the league’s top four teams (Brooks, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove) the Pontiacs are 1-3 with the lone victory coming against the Bandits.

The combined score in those matchups is 17-9 against the Pontiacs.

However, Bonnyville will get a long look at correcting those numbers in January where the Pontiacs play 5 of 7 games against opponents in this category with the two others against Whitecourt and Drumheller (4th in the North and 3rd in the South, respectively).

The Pontiacs forward lines are becoming solidified with Reilly Connors clicking with Kash Rasmussen and Bruce MacGregor, a line of big bodies working on the Pontiacs second powerplay unit.

Meanwhile, Curtis Hammond’s addition on the wing with Joel Ray and Jaden York is generating offense on the cycle.

Hammond has nine points (two goals, seven assists) while York and Ray are starting to come out of their offensive slumps.

Alex Marrocco returned to the lineup against Olds for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury against the Grande Prairie Storm on Nov. 2

Thomas Kramer and Cam Newton could be coming off the IR shortly as well after this road trip finishes.

Aidan Curran, however, has returned home to Massachusetts as he’s suffering from an infection, coach Rick Swan said.