BONNYVILLE – The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs are heading into their third playoff game this week tied 1-1 with the Lloydminster Bobcats.
Over the weekend, the Pontiacs hosted the first two games of the best-of-seven series, finding mixed results.
Friday night, in front of a crowd of over 1,080 fans, the home team burst onto the ice roaring to go, but their effort was not enough to overcome the Bobcats.
Despite having more shots on goal every period, the Bobcats came out on top with a 6-2 victory.
“We have got a young group, so not many guys have experienced the playoffs in the AJHL. You can tell there was a lot of nerves and maybe we're gripping our sticks a little too tight,” said Pontiacs’ team captain Trey Funk.
It wasn’t until the third period that Pontiacs’ defenseman Jack Bud put up the team’s first goal. With under 10 minutes in the game left to go, Funk would find the back of the Bobcats’ net.
“Right away I looked up at the clock to see how much time we had left,” recalled Funk. “It felt good to get one and get one for the team and at least give us a chance there at the end.”
And while the Pontiacs played hard until the very end, the final score did not reflect the performance on the ice.
“In playoffs it's tighter, so you've got less space out there. So, when you get the puck, you have to make a quick move. With experience and getting more games in playoffs, we'll get more used to it,” added Funk.
Following Friday night’s loss, the Pontiacs had the opportunity to return the favour. “That’s the beauty of the playoffs,” said Neil Langridge, the Pontiacs’ associate general manager.
On Saturday, the Bonnyville team would go on to win 4-0. Once again, the performance on the ice was not entirely reflected by the score – but the results had Pontiac fans going wild.
In the first period, Funk would be the only player on the ice from either team to find the back of the net. Pontiac players would put up their next three points in the second period.
Goals by Quinton Gove, Nicolas Beaudoin and Matteo Giampa would all go unanswered. The third period would continue to see the Pontiacs shut down opportunities for the Bobcats.
By the end of the game, the Bobcats had less than half the shots on goal as the home team did, just 20 compared to the Yak's 45.
“It's playoff hockey and we know that in this league that you have to come to play every night,” said Langridge. “There’s not much to dwell on, you have got 24 hours to turn around and get ready to go for the next one.”
Councils make a wager
Pending the outcome of the Pontiacs and Bobcats playoff series, Town of Bonnyville Mayor Elisa Brosseau could find herself in black, orange and white at an upcoming council meeting.
“Whatever team wins the series, the opposing mayor has to wear their jerseys,” explained Langridge.
If the Bonnyville Pontiacs win the series, then Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers will wear a Yaks jersey at a council meeting. But if the Lloydminster Bobcats win, then Brosseau will have to don a Bobcats jersey.
“I've seen it done in the past, and obviously with me wearing both hats that I wear, I wanted to engage our community a little bit more,” said Langridge, who is also a Town of Bonnyville councillor.
“It's an honour that we have a Junior A team in a community the size of Bonnyville. We are the smallest community in the whole AJHL... So, I thought it'd be a great way for us to embrace it and have Town council put their support behind it.”
The Bobcats will host the Pontiacs on March 14 for the third time game of the series.