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Thorne finalist for MVP, Ray for Most Dedicated in AJHL Awards

Pontiacs leading goal scorer Lucas Thorne, left, and captain Joel Ray, right, were both nominated for AJHL Awards on Tuesday.

Two Bonnyville Pontiacs are on the shortlist for hardware in the 2019-20 AJHL season.

Lucas Thorne is a finalist for league MVP while Joel Ray is in contention for the Most Dedicated Player award, the league announced on Tuesday.

Thorne is enjoying his best season by far in the AJHL, tied with teammate Matt McKim with 77 points this season for eighth-best in the league, and most recently passing Justin Fontaine for 7th all-time in Pontiacs scoring.

He leads the team in goals with 29 and has led the way offensively for Bonnyville this season, with only eight games without a point.

Joel Ray is the Pontiacs leader by example.

Always giving his best, Ray has dealt with adversity this season with elements of his game, but that has never deterred his work ethic or preparation for games.

He’s the Pontiacs RBC Community Ambassador and is known to be a big part of what the Junior A club tries to accomplish in the community.

Thorne finds himself against the league’s top point scorer Arjun Atwal, Sherwood Park Crusaders, the top point man of the Okotoks Oilers, Jack Works, and Canmore Eagles sniper Alex Young for the MVP award.

Ray will vie for votes against the likes of Connor Lyons, Canmore Eagles, Marc Pasemko, Okotoks Oilers and Matthew Kinash, Drayton Valley Thunder.

Winners will be chosen at the end of the season.

Good fight against Crusaders

After the Pontiacs held on last Wednesday to beat the Lloydminster Bobcats 6-5 in the shootout to win the season-series, they let themselves down with a lesser effort on Friday against Camrose in a 4-2 loss.

That led into Sunday’s final matchup against the Sherwood Park Crusaders, the number-one ranked team in the country.

The Pontiacs fell just short of their bid to equal the season-series and lost 6-4 after they pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, but it was an improved performance from Friday.

The Crusaders opened the scoring early as Arjun Atwal fired home another to increase his lead on the pack in league scoring, but the Pontiacs responded a minute later thanks to Thomas Kramer’s 19th goal of the season.

Joel Ray, Lucas Thorne, and Daine Dubois gave the Pontiacs a 4-2 midway through the second period.

The Crusaders starting limiting opportunities for Bonnyville, while chipping away at the lead.

Jacob Kendall scored just after a powerplay for Sherwood Park that extended the Yaks on a long change and Jarred White got his 29th goal of the season to tie the game heading into the intermission.

William Zapernick deflected Michael Benning’s point shot to give the Crusaders a lead they wouldn’t look back on.

Daine Dubois had two golden opportunities to tie the game, including a third-period breakaway, and a powerplay with just under five minutes left which saw the Pontiacs apply frantic pressure toward Sherwood Park goalie Carter Gylander.

Jacob Franczak scored the empty-netter to drop the Pontiacs record to 30-19-4 on the year.

Nearing playoffs

The Pontiacs have slide to 4th in the North due to a 4-9-2 slump since the new year.

They only sit one point back of the Whitecourt Wolverines for third with five games left to play until playoffs begin.

Spruce Grove comes to town on Wednesday and the Pontiacs are seeking their first win of the season against their North Division rivals.

They’ll play a final time on Sunday in Spruce Grove and on Monday in Drayton Valley, a potential playoff opponent if the season ended today, for two matinee contests.

The season ends for the club the following weekend with a pair of home games against the Grande Prairie Storm.

Puck drop on Sunday is at 7:00pm.