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Pontiacs drop first exhibition game to Ft. Mac

Head coach Chad Mercier evaluated his team from the stands, while assistant coach Ryan Pollock took over behind the bench for the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs' first exhibition game of the season Wednesday.
A Pontiacs forward faces off against a center for the Oil Barons. The Pontiacs eventually lost the August 25 exhibition game.
A Pontiacs forward faces off against a center for the Oil Barons. The Pontiacs eventually lost the August 25 exhibition game.

Head coach Chad Mercier evaluated his team from the stands, while assistant coach Ryan Pollock took over behind the bench for the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs' first exhibition game of the season Wednesday.

The Pontiacs were out-worked and out-played at home versus the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. The Oil Barons took the game by a score of 6-1, also out shooting the Pontiacs 41-20.

The exhibition game came on the heels of the Pontiacs' main camp, which was a long and tiring process for players and coaches.

“We were happy with the camp, but our level last night wasn't too good,” Mercier said following the game, adding, “part of that is fatigue.”

The game started out fast and hard hitting. Barret Luciak, one of the three Pontiacs goalies vying for the number one spot, was solid through the first period, stopping 13 of 14 shots. The period ended with the Oil Barons leading 1-0.

The Pontiacs hit the ice in the second period with a lot of energy, but that quickly subsided after they let a few quick goals slip by Connor Creech, another potential Pontiacs starting goalie who played the second and third periods.

The Oil Barons were leading 4-0 towards the end of the second, when the Pontiacs showed some of the speed and tenaciousness they posses, which according to Mercier, are “two of the team's strengths.”

Pontiacs forward Locke Muller broke the Oil Barons shutout with a great goal scored on the rush. He and Kevin Carthy came down on a two on one. Carthy took a hard shot, the rebound came out and Muller jumped all over it, putting it in and cutting the deficit to three.

As for who the Pontiacs are looking for to carry the load offensively this season, Mercier said, “It's our returning guys and our veteran guys we're looking at to be key offensively for us.”

The third period appeared to be a bit less energetic overall until Fort Mac was awarded a penalty shot. Creech came up big and made a huge save on the free shot. That seemed to swing the momentum in the Pontiacs favour, until the Oil Barons scored another goal late in the third to make it 6-1.

There were some hard hits and rough plays towards the end but not enough energy to mount a comeback. “We're not going to take too much out of this as a team,” said Mercier. “It's just a case of Fort Mac out-working and out-battling us.”

The Pontiacs second exhibition game of the season went on Saturday in Lloydminister. The Pontiacs came out on top in this one by a score of 2-1.

Bonnyville's next exhibition game goes on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Camrose against the Kodiacs.