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Friday , 3 December 2021

Bonnyville Pontiacs winners of 8 straight, ranked #11th in Canada in CJHL rankings

The Bonnyville Pontiacs enjoyed their home cooking for the last time in a little while this weekend, beating the Calgary Canucks 7-1 and Canmore Eagles 4-3 on Friday and Saturday night. 

The Yaks now 13-3-1 have their longest win streak in five seasons dating back to the 2016-17 season at 8, three away from the unofficial team record of 11. 

It didn’t come easy on Saturday night. Despite severely outshooting and outchancing the Canmore Eagles, the south opponent had three seeing-eye pucks go through a maze of traffic in front of Bonnyville netminder Bodee Weiss to have the game tied in the third period.

Undeterred, Justin Stathopoulos found Trey Funk bulldozing toward the net for a redirection goal with 6:13 left in regulation, his third of the season, which stood up as the winner.

“The message all game was playing our game and playing the right way,” said assistant coach Derek Hemsley post-game.

“We wanted to close down their opportunities, chip pucks out, chip pucks in when we need to. And in the final last few minutes making sure we had all our players above the puck in the defensive zone and keeping their guys in front of us.”

Funk is a second-year Pontiac whose speed and defensive prowess has earned him a lot of trust playing center in the bottom 6. A committed penalty killer, Funk also sees time on the powerplay in a point position.

“Bonnyville has been great so far,” he said before Friday’s win. “My last year and a half has been a pleasure playing here. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than Bonnyville.”

This type of success streak usually gets others attention, which was reflected in the latest CJHL national rankings released Monday morning. The Yaks are positioned as the 11th best team and second highest placing team in the AJHL.

Sitting just one point back of 1st place in the AJHL North Division, Spruce Grove and Fort McMurray each have played one more game than the Yaks thus far. 

Bonnyville will go on the road for 4 games in 5 days this week in Okotoks on Tuesday, Calgary on Wednesday, Canmore on Friday and Olds on Saturday. And return home on November 12 against the Blackfalds Bulldogs. 

Health-wise, forward Alew Power is hoping to be available to return to the lineup sometime during the southern roadtrip and Adam Grenier could return to action after sitting out due to personal reasons.

“We know we have a lot of games quickly. We have that day off in between, so hopefully we can use rest as a weapon to prepare ourselves mentally for that type of a grind.”

In the meantime, the Pontiacs still found time to contribute back to the community, guiding young Trick-or-Treaters through the busy streets on Halloween.

Quick notes:

-Rookie Matteo Giampa has a 6 game point streak, with 6 goals and 3 assists down this stretch.

-Austin Saint has surpassed 50 career AJHL games over the weekend. He is still the team’s leading scorer with 16 points.

-AJ Macaulay has tied a career season-high way 14 points already this year, equaling his mark from 2019-20. Only four games has he been held off the offensive boxscore.

-Since Oct. 13, captain Kash Rasmussen has only been held pointless once, and sits with 12 points in 12 games.

Puckdrop on Tuesday vs the Okotoks Oilers is 7pm. You can listen to the game live 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.