This is more like it.
The Bonnyville Pontiacs controlled long stretches of Tuesday’s home win against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, with five different goal scorers and limited shots against in a 5-2 win that overall was flattering to the road side.
After a MOB pushback in the second period to tie the game, Bonnyville found its first powerplay goal of the season with Nicolas Beaudoin, who roofed a high slot wrister top corner, and the Yaks never looked back.
“I’m really happy for Nico to score,” said assistant coach Darick Ste-Marie about the crucial point of the game, who also celebrated his birthday on Tuesday. “It was a good pass from Ryan, and it was a nice goal.”
The patient pass came from defenceman Michael Ryan, who exploded for four assists, and displayed a fearless ability to make – or get caught – making a play.
Ryan is an 18-year-old newcomer from the Gunnery Prep School, the same one Matteo Giampa attended. So far, he is the team leader in points with 5, despite not starting opening night, and is willing to get up into the rush and have an aggressive gap control.
Bodee Weiss made 17 of 19 saves in the victory, improving to 2-1 on the season.
Pressure makes the levee break
The Yaks forechecking pressure created several opportunities throughout the game. JR Ashmead used his speed and skating to go zone to zone and then bury the first of the game on MOB netminder Noah Nelson, who was pelted with 43 shots.
Brent Hoshowski’s skating is much improved so far in his sophomore season and while he was a factor all night long, he created a 2-0 lead after a great hold-in the o-zone from Nathan Phillips.
Fort McMurray utilized a controversial redirection goal on a 2nd period powerplay to get within one. Then Jason Huang danced into the Pontiacs zone, which allowed Anthony Campbell to score on the rebound for his first AJHL goal.
It was “Hoshow” who drew the penalty that allowed the Yaks to regain the lead.
“Hoshow works so hard all the time. He creates opportunities to get powerplays just because he’s moving his feet,” said Ste-Marie.
Another sequence of great zone possession saw Ludo Tardif free up Josh Simpson at the point and for Max Seguin to bang home the rebound in front to end the 2nd period up 4-2.
The 3rd period saw limited chances for an Oil Baron comeback.
Luka Sukovic scored his 2nd of the season on an empty-netter with 13 seconds left in regulation to seal the win.
But now the Pontiacs get their first taste of the road, the great equalizer in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, with their next four games on the road — and they face a squad feeling as good as anyone.
Visiting the Camrose Kodiaks on Friday night, they took down the Brooks Bandits on Tuesday night to improve to 3-0 on the year.
The Kodiaks have a lot of fresh faces around the organization and also have wins against the Whitecourt Wolverines and Olds Grizzlys this season.
Jonas Schmidt on scoring his 1st AJHL goal on Saturday
“It was a great moment. My mom and dad were here from Ontario too, so that made it pretty special. Mikey and Philly made a great play to get it to me backdoor, and no one can really miss that,” said Schmidt.
- Joseph Macchione has been acquired from the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League to add yet another forward to the mix. Originally a 13th round pick in the 2021 OHL Draft, the ’05 born, Streetsville, Ontario product led the Fort Erie Meteors with 61 points in 41 games last season, and was named to the GOJHL (Golden Horseshoe) All-Star Team.
- Camrose Kodiaks head coach Derrick Martin, as well as assistant coach Jamie Crooks, hail from Vermilion, Alberta. Yaks equipment manager/athletic therapist from last year Taylor Cochrane is now in Camrose as well.
- The Kodiaks are one of just three undefeated teams left, along with Okotoks and Sherwood Park.
- Tyler Blocha took a nasty spill in the 3rd period where he was crosschecked into the net and careened into the endboards. He was able to resume play in the 3rd period. Blocha leads the team with three goals.
- While just three games into the season, the Yaks are in pole position to again have the fewest powerplay opportunities in the AJHL with 9 so far. Only Calgary has fewer in one less game. Bonnyville has had the fewest PP’s for the last two years running.
- Conversely, they’ve also been shorthanded the least in the league. Simon Diaz’s batted in puck is the lone shorthanded goal against
- After Friday’s game, the Yaks don’t play again until the AJHL Showcase, Wednesday, Sept. 27th vs the Blackfalds Bulldogs and Thursday, Sept. 28 vs the Drayton Valley Thunder. Then it’s Tuesday, Oct. 3 at Blackfalds, before returning home Friday, Oct. 6 to host the Canmore Eagles.
The puck drops at 7pm from the Encana Arena in Camrose.