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Bonnyville Pontiacs celebrate their year

BONNYVILLE – Once a Pontiac, always a Pontiac.

It was an emotional evening when the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs came together with their fans and volunteers to wrap-up another season. The team celebrated their year-end awards banquet at the Beaver River Fish and Game Building on Friday, Feb. 21.

Along with announcing which of the Pontiacs won the top accolades for the 2019/20 season, head coach Rick Swan took the opportunity to bid farewell to their three graduating players: Lucas Thorne, Daine Dubois, and Joel Ray.

“In the community, dressing room, and on the ice, they’re true professionals and they do it right every day,” Swan expressed. “Most importantly, they lead by example to our young players that doing it right is an all the time thing.”

All three of the 20-year-olds agreed they didn’t want their Jr. A careers to come to an end.

“What I’m going to miss most about my time in Bonnyville won’t be scoring goals or playing games on the ice or anything like that, it’s going to be mostly the time I spent with my teammates and in the community, at billet houses, in the dressing room before and after games… and the nights where we got the green light from Rick to have some fun and let loose a little bit to bond as a team,” Thorne described.

Their passion for the game showed when the awards were being presented.

Thorne was Team MVP, finishing the regular season with 81 points from 30 goals and 51 assists in 53 games played. 

With 28 goals and 37 assists for 65 points, Dubois was the team’s top defensive forward for the season.

The President’s Award was given to Ray, who saw the recognition as a nod to his commitment to giving back to Bonnyville.

“All of the other awards are important for on-ice accolades, but I think the fact that this award marks the on and off-ice impact that you make is very special to me. I can honestly say that I put my heart and soul into this team and town while I was here,” he noted. “I know there were quite a few guys that could have gotten that award, we have great character on our team, and I’m was blessed to be honoured with it.”

Bonnyville-native A.J. Macaulay was named the most improved player. Newcomer Thomas Kramer was dubbed this season’s rookie of the year, and in his first year with the Pontiacs, scored 22 goals and 16 assists for 39 points overall.

The Matt Cook Unsung Player Award went to Easton Hesse, while Josh Kroon was awarded top defenceman.

Matthew McKim took home three accolades during the evening, including the three-star award, most gentlemanly player, and top scorer. In his first year with the Pontiacs, he recorded 24 goals and 61 assists for 85 points in 57 games.

“It felt great to win,” he exclaimed. “It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of stuff that goes into the awards, so it’s great to be recognized.”

Although the Pontiacs’ regular season hadn’t officially wrapped up at the time of the celebration, they already had their sights set on playoffs.

“We know we have a lot more to give and we’re definitely going to go further,” noted Ray. “But, I think it’s important for us to recognize all the good that we’ve been doing throughout the season and all the good that’s yet to come this season.”

Swan agreed, “It was an opportunity to reflect on the season, some of the accomplishments, and highlights that our team has created since our journey began in August of 2019.”

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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