Saturday was not a good day for the Bonnyville Sr. Pontiacs.
A limp and depleted Sr. Pontiacs team was blown out 17-1 in Game 3 of their first-round matchup against the Morinville Kings.
Coach Corey Wandler said the void left from absent players dealing with injuries, illness, and work started things off on the wrong foot.
“We just didn’t want to play hockey I guess is the simplest way to put it. We got to the rink and everyone was hanging their lip already because we only had 12 guys and a lot of our powerhouse names on the team out of the lineup. I don’t know if it was just the guys saw the writing on the wall that it was going to be damn near impossible to sneak out a win, you can see it right from warm up,” said Wandler.
The Kings now lead the series 2-1 with an elimination Game 4 on the cards back in Bonnyville on Saturday night.
If the Pontiacs can find a victory, the deciding Game 5 returns to Morinville the next afternoon.
Captain Lucas Isley may return from injury in time for Game 4, while Wandler hopes other Pontiacs mainstays this year in Ty Carey, Adam Knapp, Cody Hodgson, Courage Omeasoo, and Josh Swampy, will work back into the lineup for the crucial Game 4.
They’ll look to bring some of the same compete level from Games 1 and 2, which saw the 8th-seeded Pontiacs upset the Kings 6-3 and nearly steal Game 2 as well.
“We were focused. We were dialed in for Games 1 and 2, we played real good hockey. We had the strongest game of the season in Game 1. We were great in all three zones. Every guy that dressed that night brought their A-game. Our goalie had his best game of the season and that’s what it’s going to take against Morinville.
“Hopefully our confidence isn’t shattered. That’s one thing I’m kind of leery about is when you let 17 goals in, what kind of confidence do you have right? That’s gonna be a challenge for us. Are we still going to be able to believe and have that belief system we had in Game 1 and 2?”
A drubbing like that could lead to more than just battles between the whistles.
The Kings continued to pepper shots on the Pontiacs, adding four goals in the third period, and continuing to punish Bonnyville, which Wandler hopes they won’t forget for Saturday’s home game.
“I don’t think anyone’s too happy with how Morinville handled things on Saturday. I know it’s playoffs and you don’t hold anything back. But when you run the score up and you’re still celebrating doing fist bumps, when it’s 12, 13, 14-1 and sending your top powerplay out late in the game on a power play when it’s 16-1 with three minutes left… when you’re doing things like that, hopefully that boils our blood a little bit and we get to play with that edge on Saturday and show them we’re here for business and we’re definitely not going to be blown out again.”
Puck drop is at 7:00pm at Saturday at the RJ Lalonde Arena.