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Friday , 21 January 2022

Winners of 6 straight, Pontiacs head to Vermilion to take on Crusaders

It was the type of victory that all but a few of the current Bonnyville Pontiacs had ever experienced — getting a win in Spruce Grove’s rink. That’s what happened on Tuesday night as the Pontiacs clawed back to tie the game late with a Kash Rasmussen goal, and then Alex Power finished the deal in overtime for Bonnyville to get a 4-3 OT win at the Grant Fuhr Arena.

The win knots up the season-series against Spruce Grove and launches the Yaks current win streak to six games — the last two against teams they are chasing in the North Division standings.

Now sitting one point back of Fort McMurray and four behind Spruce Grove, the Pontiacs will travel to Vermilion on Friday night to take on the Sherwood Park Crusaders in a rare neutral site game for now Crusaders head coach Jeff Woywitka, after Adam Manah’s firing last Friday.

Woywitka is from Vermilion and played in the National Hockey League and for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

Smack dab in the middle of the season, this Yaks team is on pace to break the franchise record for wins at 41. With a 21-6-3 record, Bonnyville has six more games until the Christmas break.

Coach Rick Swan was asked to compare this year’s edition to the 2018-19 club that earned that 41 win season.

“I thought that that team was incredibly high-end skilled, had great depth and we had great goaltending, but we didn’t go through the same adversity periods that this young team that we have now has. This team is younger and has faced adversity earlier, and I really think that’s going to serve us well, because that team in 18-19 had gone through the season pretty much rolling over teams. And when we faced adversity they were not able to handle it in the right way, and it was a second round, 4-straight knock out to the Spruce Grove Saints,” said Swan.

“I really like the trend that this team is on and the fact that they are young and still learning and still getting better. That’s the great thing that as a coach that you want to be at your very best in terms of coaching your group, when the very best is required, and that is going to be playoffs and we have so much growth left because they’re a young group. I just think at the end of the day I believe that this team, looking at both of them and comparing them, has more potential to do better than the best team we’ve ever had in franchise history.”

No Saturday or Sunday games for this group, but Bonnyville will make their last trip to Grande Prairie on Tuesday night and make their first appearance at the Scott Safety Centre in Whitecourt on Wednesday night.

The next home game is Saturday, December 11 against the Olds Grizzlys, which is also The Brick Bonnyville Teddy Bear Toss.

You can listen to every game all season long at 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.