BONNYVILLE – As of last Friday, the Bonnyville Pontiacs finished their exhibition games and will now head into the regular season beginning Sept. 17 at the R. J. Lalonde Arena.
Rick Swan, the general manager and head coach for the Pontiacs, says coming into this season players are grateful to be back on the ice, especially for those who are older and are hoping to gain exposure to jump to the next level of hockey.
“We were able to see veteran guys returning who invested hard in their training during the summertime, to show that this year is a year that we have optimism that we're going to have a competitive team among the top organizations in the Alberta Junior Hockey League,” said Swan.
Looking forward to the regular season ahead, he says there have been successes that have come out of the Pontiacs training camp. “We had some real good young performances that show that if we can create and maintain the relationship we had out of our big camp, it will bode well for the future for the Bonnyville Pontiacs.”
On the current exhibition game roster are four local players from Bonnyville and Cold Lake, as well as from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and five youth from the United States. All of which, hope to fill a spot on the bench.
For many of the senior players, last year felt like a season lost, said Swan. However, efforts were directed to player development and the number of 20-year-olds accepted into the program were reduced for that reason. “This year we've got a good core group determined as a result.”
Swan also noted that even with all the constraints caused by the pandemic, all Pontiac players who would have aged out of the program last year received post-secondary scholarships, allowing them to continue pursuing hockey at the college level.
During the Pontiacs exhibition run, the Alberta Junior Hockey League team had four wins and two losses.
On Sept. 1, the Pontiacs beat the Blackfalds Bulldogs 7-4. In the following match up with the Bulldogs on Sept. 3, the Pontiacs lost 1-0.
On Sept. 5, the Pontiacs won 5-1 against the Lloydminister Bobcats. The Pontiacs continued their winning streak on Sept. 7, beating the Bobcats 4-1.
On Sept. 8, the Pontiacs came up short against the Drayton Valley Thunder, losing 3-2. During a nail-biting final match in the exhibition run, the Pontiacs overcame the Drayton Valley Thunder 3-2 in overtime.