There were good moments on the Bonnyville Pontiacs longest road trip of the season, but also struggles against teams below them in the standings.
A season-long road trip that began promising with an emotional ninth consecutive win against the Okotoks Oilers 6-5, ended with three losses to Calgary, Canmore, and now Olds on Saturday to sit still just four points out of first place at 14-5-2.
It was a stretch of 7 games in 11 days for the team, who are right back it Tuesday on the road in Drayton Valley (11-6-4).
After getting a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Canmore Eagles on Saturday, the Pontiacs were tied 2-2 after 40 minutes with the Olds Grizzlys with a dominating second period performance and goals from Ethan Sundar and Matteo Giampa. But Noah Hackett scored twice and the Pontiacs after a 5 minute major, surrendered a goal at the end of the kill. Bonnyville scored twice in the final three and a half minutes, but fell 5-4.
“I think special teams came in huge again. We gave up three powerplay goals and I don’t think we scored one. And that’s just the tale of the tape,” said assistant coach Derek Hemsley.
The Yaks surrendered nine goals while shorthanded during the four game trip. Now Bonnyville’s penalty kill sits 13th in the league at 74 per cent, dropping five per cent during that stretch.
“Sometimes when you are experiencing a lot of success, complacency can creep it’s way into some player’s heads. And when things start to go wrong, I use the analogy of quicksand, you more you try to get out, the worse it gets and the deeper you sink. We have to find a way to work ourselves out of it right now,” said Hemsley.
The Pontiacs play the Drayton Valley Thunder on Tuesday at 7:30pm in their second head-to-head matchup this season. The Yaks beat them 3-2 in overtime back on October 16, but the Thunder sit just four points back of Bonnyville in the North Division standings heading into the contest.
After that, Bonnyville will be home for five consecutive games beginning Friday against the Blackfalds Bulldogs.
You can listen to the games live on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs.
- Austin Saint remains the team’s leading scorer with 20 points and was the Northern Truck & Industrial Supply – NAPA Traction Player of the Month for October. His 10 goals are tied with Ethan Sundar for the team lead.
- Captain Kash Rasmussen is currently on a point-per-game pace of 16 points in 16 games and 4 points in 4 games on the southern swing road trip.
- Justin Stathopoulos may miss some time with an upper-body injury after not returning to Tuesday’s Okotoks game, and missing the late three.
- Alex Power returned to the lineup and contributed two assists in Saturday’s game vs Olds after a layoff of three weeks.