BONNYVILLE – The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs took a painful blow when they fell 6-3 to the Whitecourt Wolverines.
Head coach Rick Swan noted after the Wednesday, Jan. 22 game there was no reason why the Pontiacs couldn’t take down the visiting Wolverines, who are one spot below the third place Pontiacs in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) north division standings.
“We’re trending in the wrong way in the last nine games, so right now as a group we have to reverse and change that,” he said. “I think that it’s a reflection of an individual player here to ask himself ‘what am I doing to help contribute to where we’re trending? Or how do I contribute to change that?’ It’s a game we feel we should have won, a game that we feel we should have had a better performance in terms of work ethic… We got outplayed most of the game, and we didn’t compete hard enough.”
Captain Joel Ray agreed.
“We got down early, we battled back with a couple of power play goals, but we let it get away from us in the end. We didn’t play a full 60-minute game, and it hurt us in the end.”
The Wolverines were quick to take the lead in the first, netting two goals before the frame was through.
Pontiac Lucas Thorne put Bonnyville on the scoreboard with a powerplay goal less than a minute into the second period.
When the Pontiacs received a team penalty for too many men on the ice, Matthew McKim added his name to the score sheet with a shorthanded goal to tie it up at 2-2.
It wasn’t long before Whitecourt took the lead with back-to-back goals, but Thorne wasn’t happy with that. He found the back of the Wolverine’s net to end the second with a score of 4-3.
The heartbreaking 6-3 loss for Bonnyville was solidified in the third when Whitecourt netted two more goals before the final buzzer blew.
When the team was in the locker room, there were some hard discussions about their performance and how they’re going to improve.
“As a coaching staff, our job is to be honest with them so that they understand where we are, but also to look at yourself with a critical eye because coaches are going to be honest with them so they can get better,” detailed Swan. “We’re not here to try and detract away from their performance, we’re trying to elevate their performance and they sometimes have to take things on the chin so they can reflect and look at themselves in the mirror so they can do better.”
For Ray, the remaining games of the season will be his last as a Pontiac as he wraps up his junior hockey career. That’s why every loss they face is difficult for the 20-year-old, something he tried to reiterate to his teammates.
“I think they saw the emotion in there, and what everybody wants to do this season. I definitely think it will turn around for us here, we’re not in a bad position right now by any means. Just after the break we went three (wins) and six (losses), so we’d like to pick that up. I think we’ll start this weekend, we’ve got two tough tests down south, but we’ll come ready to play.”
Pontiac fans will be able to see the team face-off against the Olds Grizzlys in their next home game on Friday, Jan. 31. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m.