BONNYVILLE - The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs finished with a win and a loss in their last two games before the Christmas break.
After besting the Lloydminster Bobcats at home, the Pontiacs couldn’t keep their success alive when they entered enemy territory against the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Pontiacs dominate the Bobcats
When the Bobcats came to town on Friday, Dec. 20, Bonnyville walked away with the 7-2 win.
Head coach Rick Swan noted some of the players may have been a little distracted due to the upcoming holidays.
“It’s always tough to try and keep the guys focused, because they know they’re going to be on flights to go home soon. What we were asking them to do was finish off strong for the first half of the season in front of our home fans and they did that,” he said, adding he was happy with the team’s success, but saw areas that needed improvement.
“It wasn’t pretty at times for our guys, maybe because we were believing that we’re the better team and in control so we got a little bit individual, and that’s when we get away from our structure.”
The first goal of the night went to Pontiac Joshua Kroon less than two minutes into the first.
Fans responded by throwing stuffed animals onto the ice as part of the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss.
“It was definitely cool,” Kroon expressed. “I’ve never experienced anything like that before, so I really appreciate all the fans coming out, supporting us, and bringing all of those teddy bears.”
Thomas Kramer added his name to the scoresheet.
While Lloydminster found the back of Bonnyville’s net, the Pontiacs widened the gap to 4-1 with goals from Jaden York and Reilly Connors.
Bonnyville’s Jaxsen Wyatt kicked things off in the second scoring one of his own.
Connors snuck the puck past the Bobcats’ netminder for a second time that night, bringing the home team’s lead to 6-1.
Before the period was through, the Bobcats added what would be their last goal of the evening.
The final point of the game went to Bonnyville when Lucas Thorne capitalized on a power play to get the 7-2 win.
Although he thought it was a good game overall, Connors believes the final 20 minutes could have been better.
“We gave up 18 shots, and I think that was mostly because we were pretty complacent from where we were due to the score... I think people were trying to get fancy, myself included, but everyone really started to buy in during the third period.”
Hard loss for the Pontiacs
The Pontiacs didn’t keep the momentum going when they faced off against the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Saturday, Dec. 21. Ultimately, the local team fell 6-3.
The teams were evenly matched in the beginning of the first until Pontiac Justin Stathopolous scored.
Before the period was through, the Crusaders took the lead with back-to-back goals.
Sherwood Park added another point to bring the score to 3-1 before the end of the second frame.
Pontiac Bruce MacGregor found the back of the net less than 10 minutes into the third to put a point in Bonnyville’s column.
The Crusaders scored an additional two goals before Pontiac Matthew McKim capitalized on a power play.
The final point of the game went to the Crusaders, solidifying their 6-3 win over Bonnyville.
With the new year quickly approaching, Bonnyville is putting their focus on climbing the standings and positioning themselves well heading into playoffs.
“The second half of the year… is going to be tough because we’re facing a lot of top teams,” noted Kroon. “I think the whole first half of the year, we’ve been building and developing our culture and structure and I definitely feel good about the way we’re going right now. If we just keep playing our hockey the way we have been we have a good chance.”
Connors added, “We’re not going to count anyone out. I think that we could have really burned a lot of points from teams that we think that we could beat more easily than teams at the top of the standings. I think we have to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves. January is going to be a really tough time, but we have to come in everyday and be ready to work and build on every single practice, game, shift and period.”
The next time the Pontiacs step onto home ice is against the Crusaders on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Puck drop is 7 p.m.