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Pontiacs on solid ground

Members of the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs organization and community members alike looked back on last year's success and forward with excitement when they met at this year's annual general meeting (AGM).
Pontiacs head coach Chad Mercier prepares for the upcoming season.
Pontiacs head coach Chad Mercier prepares for the upcoming season.

Members of the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs organization and community members alike looked back on last year's success and forward with excitement when they met at this year's annual general meeting (AGM). The meeting was held on July 27 in the Pontiacs boardroom.

Always a hot topic at the AGM is the financial situation of the club. Financial reports were presented to the meeting attendees and it was clear the Pontiacs organization has itself “on good solid ground” and the finances are “all in the black,” President Don Sydora told the Nouvelle after the meeting.

The meeting also gives the organization a chance to thank all its volunteers and employees for their tireless effort and hard work. From Head Coach Chad Mercier, whom Sydora says, “is tremendous,” to the volunteers who have helped out all year round, the Pontiacs organization extended a huge thank you to everyone involved. Sydora also extended his appreciation to the corporate support of the team, which he says “has been just fantastic.”

All existing board members were retained with the exception of Kevin Lamb. Elected to the board to replace him was Floyd Isley.

A discussion at the meeting did arise concerning fan support, according to Sydora. Although fan support has been fairly strong, it took a slight hit last season, due in part to the economic downturn, explains Sydora. The Pontiacs averaged almost 800 fans per game in 2008. In 2009, that number dropped to about 690. However, this trend is not expected to continue.

Although not directly in response to the smaller fan turnout, the Pontiacs organization has taken great strides in the past year to improve the fan experience at each game. Specifically, new boards and glass have been installed. The boards have been lowered to match the height used in most pro arenas. This will be safer for players and allow fans a better view from the lower rows. The glass has also been replaced and is now seamless. For fans, this means a much clearer view of the ice; no longer will fans have to stare at those metal stanchions between each sheet of glass. Both changes, Sydora adds, “will be great for viewing” and “great for fans.”

The Pontiacs enjoy giving back to fans in other ways as well. The team is very active in the community that supports them. Throughout the year the team holds several events and fundraisers to support the community of Bonnyville and the surrounding area. One event, the jersey auction, typically raises about $9,000 to $10,000 per year. All the money raised from the auction goes to the Bonnyville Health Foundation. The players also have an Osum anti-bullying campaign that they promote. Several players and coaches travel to schools in Bonnyville and neighbouring communities to speak with students about the pitfalls of bullying. This program reaches over 3,000 students each year. Some of the players will also take part in patrolling Bonnyville's crosswalks this Halloween, helping to keep trick-or-treaters safe and having fun.