While Friday proved to be a good litmus test to learn lessons, Saturday saw the Bonnyville Pontiacs respond against an inferior opponent in the standings.
Hosting the Sherwood Park Crusaders, the Yaks held a 2-2 tie in the 2nd period, but the Pontiacs turned over too many pucks in their own zone, eventually costing them in a 5-2 loss.
Rookie forward Clarence Beltz scored twice – once with a hard forechecking turnover, another on burst of speed for a breakaway – but Bonnyville could never get a lead, and chased the game more often than not.
It was the type of game with a thin margin of error, that shows the Pontiacs are a very good team, but perhaps not yet an elite team in the AJHL. Although they beat the Crusaders in their barn earlier this season, and beat the Brooks Bandits at home, the consistency is still lacking to be routinely considered in that class.
“We are a good team, but we aren’t there yet,” said head coach Mario Pouliot before Saturday’s contest.
“A night like last night, we do really good things, and I was really happy about a lot of things we did. But on the other hand we did really bad things that cost us the game. And when I look at the big picture, I knew last night we weren’t sharp enough with the puck, we weren’t using our body.”
However, they had their opportunities, particularly in the 3rd period where the league’s leading goal man Luka Sukovic had two prime chances with just Erick Roest to beat. He couldn’t find the back of the net, nor could the powerplay generate on their late man-advantage.
Bodee Weiss was alright, but the first two goals were likely those he’d like to have back, cooling what has been a hot run for the Yaks starter.
The Crusaders were able to keep pace with the Brooks Bandits, and remain four points off of first place, bolstered by a group of 17-year-olds like Ryan Zaremba and Brock Souch.
Bounceback vs Camrose
Bonnyville reversed that score against the struggling Camrose Kodiaks the following night, with Nathan St-Germain making 28 saves in the 5-2 victory.
The two point weekend improves their record to 15-9-2 as they’ve played just over 40 per cent of their schedule.
Tyler Blocha emerged with a strong 1st period. First, he cut back and found Dante Siciliano creeping into the high slot area, which gave the Pontiacs an early lead. Siciliano returned the favour to Blocha moments later, holding the puck in the zone and hitting an open Blocha, who beat Charlie Zolin all alone.
Blocha now has 11 goals on the season, which is second on the team, and should be a confidence booster for him on the offensive side of the puck.
The Kodiaks didn’t fold, however, and were the better team in the 3rd period, earning two goals. But a shorthanded marker from Max Seguin, and empty-netter from JR Ashmead secured the win.
“We’ve got some big games coming up and we need to make sure we’re ready,” said assistant coach Ryan Blocha. “We have a couple big weeks.”
The homestand wraps up on Wednesday night vs the Blackfalds Bulldogs who sit 3rd in the AJHL, but have lost four consecutive games as well. They’ll be in Fort McMurray the night before.
Then it’s a Drumheller and Brooks swing down south this weekend.
You can listen to every game, all season on lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs.