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Devan Praught new head coach of Bonnyville Pontiacs

Praught formerly coached the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. Prior to that, he spent eight years with the Notre Dame Hounds in the Saskatchewan Midget League.

BONNYVILLE - Just as the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs journeyed into the 2024 Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) Inter Pipeline playoffs, they did so under the guidance of a new head coach, Devan Praught.   

The team has been without a head coach since the departure of Mario Pouliot in January, who relocated to Switzerland to coach with HC Sierre of the Swiss League.  Assistant coaches Darick Ste-Marie and Ryan Blocha took over coaching duties over the past few months.   

Praught, who is originally from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, brings more than a decade of coaching experience to the Pontiacs, who finished the 2023-24 season in fourth spot in the AJHL. 

Coming onboard as the Pontiacs entered the postseason, while getting to know the team and how they play in such a short period, has been a challenge. 

“I feel the team has been receptive… we have invested a lot of time into team builders and getting to know each other, not just me understanding who they are as a person [or] player but them getting to know me as well,” he told Lakeland This Week.  

“We are all in on giving our best effort to bring a championship to Bonnyville.” 

Before arriving in Bonnyville, Praught spent three years with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Before that, he was part of the coaching staff with the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Midget League.  

While these experiences helped to prepare Praught for his role with the Pontiacs, he said regardless of the level of hockey being played, one thing that remains the same across all levels is the game itself and “working to have a group buy into an identity and play for each other on a nightly basis.” 

Praught continued by saying that Pontiacs staff have done a great job of making the transition from coaching Major Junior to Junior A “as seamless as possible.” 

While at Notre Dame, he coached former and current Pontiacs Trey Funk, Ethan Look, Jared Power, and Cody Lehner.  

“I have always kept tabs on my former players and am proud of all the guys who move on in the game, not only for what they do on the ice but also how they carry themselves away from the rink as well,” he said.  

When he isn’t on the bench coaching, Praught spends time with his wife, Lindsay, and their children, Charlie, Cali, and Leni. Any spare time he can have with his children, he said, is always special.  

First game of playoffs 

On March 15, in their first game of the 2024 playoffs, the Pontiacs faced off against the Drumheller Dragons, dropping a 4-2 decision in front of a hometown crowd at the R.J Lalonde Arena. 

Commenting on that game, Praught stated that he liked the first 40 minutes, and thought the team deserved to have some separation in the score leading into the third period.  

“Unfortunately, a few lapses in a short period of time and we dug ourselves a hole we couldn't get out of,” he said.  

On Saturday night, the Pontiacs lost an even tighter match in overtime. The Dragons won the game 4-3.  

The Pontiacs also lost their next two match-ups against the Dragons, dashing their hopes for a longer playoff run.

Coaching style 

When it comes to a coaching style, Praught believes that he is a “players coach,” one that works with the players to help them reach their potential.  

“I am a motivator and a team first guy… I think that reflects in the way I operate day to day, working my hardest to serve the players and prepare them for our next games while also investing in the team togetherness and stressing that importance.” 

Chris McGarry

About the Author: Chris McGarry

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