Friday , 22 October 2021

Pontiacs to face North Division’s best after the AJHL Showcase

The Bonnyville Pontiacs late rally came up short in overtime against the Olds Grizzlys on Sunday 4-3, but they did earn three of four points from the road trip. 

The Yaks played a pair of games this weekend at the AJHL Showcase in Brooks–winning 5-3 against the Blackfalds Bulldogs in an early Saturday contest . 

Bonnyville had five different goal scorers, including Lakeland area product Nicolas Beaudoin, potting his first career AJHL goal. Alex Power, Ethan Sundar, Michael Fairfax, and Trey Funk all lit the lamp in the victory.  

It’s evidence so far of a balanced offensive group that is getting contributions from multiple lines. 

However, the Pontiacs had a disjointed effort on Sunday, allowing the winless Grizzlys a two goal edge 3-1 into the 3rd period. 

St. Vincent native Tristan Martin got the start for the Grizzlys and made an incredible diving stick save with 5 minutes left in regulation, however, the game completely turned seconds later as Alex Power banked in a goal and Nick Traggio’s seeing eye snipe top corner 43 seconds later drew the game level. 

The Grizzlys capitalized on a turnover in OT with Noah Hackett’s winning goal beating Matt Hennessey and the Yaks escaped with a point for a 4-1-1 record, which puts them in a tie for 3rd place in the AJHL North Division with the Spruce Grove Saints at 9 points.

Bonnyville will get a better sense of their division’s strength over the next three weeks.  

The Yaks travel to Fort McMurray to play the Oil Barons Tuesday night at 7:30pm, before playing a home-and-home weekend series against the Saints. 

After another midweek matchup at home against Spruce Grove, the Yaks play host to the 1st place Drayton Valley Thunder (5-0-2) and the feisty Sherwood Park Crusaders (3-4). 

AJHL Showcase weekend is a marquee opportunity for hundreds of scouts from NCAA schools and NHL teams to watch the players live. Bonnyville has three players on the roster who have NCAA commitments: AJ Macaulay to Alaska-Fairbanks, Kash Rasmussen to Michigan Tech, and Nick Traggio to Brown University. 

Bonnyville decided to play 16-year-old defenceman Noah Heinrich in the pair of weekend games, a player the team has high hopes in the years to come. 

Noah Heinrich signs a letter of intent to join the Bonnyville Pontiacs organization. Image submitted.

The Provost native currently plays for OHA Edmonton and drew a lot of interest from scouts as one of the top prospects at the Showcase. 

He signed a letter of intent to join the Pontiacs in the future and says he is happy with his decision to join the Pontiacs. 

“Bonnyville offered a great cultural environment with a great group of players, coaches and staff who welcomed me into their family with open arms since the first day I attended their camp,” said Heinrich.

“The development and coaching I will receive playing for the Pontiacs will put me on the path become a very impactful p;ayer at the junior level and give me the tools I need to play at the next level.”

Both of Bonnyville’s goaltenders Bodee Weiss (2.00, .941sv%) and Matt Hennessey (2.28, .924sv%) are in the league’s top nine in goals against average and top seven in save percentage. 

Special teams has been a big reason for the team’s success, as the Yaks carried the number one league power play into Sunday’s game before going 0/4 in Sunday’s game. 

However, with spread out point scoring, Bonnyville’s leading scorers Nick Traggio and Michael Fairfax each have five points, which don’t crack the league’s top 40.

Bonnyville has hopes to get some key contributors back for the upcoming divisional games. 

Third-year Pontiac Justin Stathopoulos is targeting his season debut this weekend after a summertime shoulder injury. 

Captain Kash Rasmussen who has missed the last four games could be back, as well as defenceman Ryan Koebel who suffered a freak skate injury after Saturday’s game that required a couple stitches. 

Forward Charlie Russell will be ineligible for Tuesday’s game, serving the second of a two-game suspension for a crosscheck to the head that was committed in Saturday’s game.

Upcoming Games: 

  • Tuesday, Oct. 5 | @ Fort McMurray Oil Barons | 7:30pm
  • Friday, Oct. 8 | @ Spruce Grove Saints | 7:00pm
  • Saturday, Oct. 9 | HOME vs Spruce Grove Saints | 7:00pm
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13 | HOME vs Spruce Grove Saints | 7:00pm
  • Saturday, Oct. 16 | HOME vs Drayton Valley Thunder | 7:00pm
  • Sunday, Oct. 17 | @ Sherwood Park Crusaders | TBD

You can listen to every Bonnyville Pontiacs game this season on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.