BONNYVILLE – Rested, the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs dominated the scoreboard over their weekend match-up against the Grand Prairie Storm both on Friday and Saturday evening.
This comes after the Pontiacs returned from a jam packed southern Alberta road trip where the team had five games in eight days.
Following Friday’s successful game, Head Coach Rick Swan reflected on the team's rocky road trip.
“We thought we really had some pros on our south swing and we learned a lot about ourselves. The pros were we went through some adversity and we had to go through that adversity to try and figure out the energy issue that is created when you're not getting the success that you want to,” Swan told Lakeland This Week.
"For us to be able to go through this, I think it made us stronger and made us closer, but the con of it all is that we ended up playing a lot of games in such a short period of time and what that did is it mentally fatigued and physically fatigued us.”
Taking lessons from the losses, Swan said it is good for the team to learn how to cope with the adversity of playing from behind early in the season, so that players learn how to keep the right positive energy when things aren't going well.
“You need to have that optimistic approach to what you're doing each and every single day,” he said, adding that having a week-long break after several weeks of a full schedule allowed the coaches to have more team and one-on-one meetings with the players to work on the mental aspect of the game.
The Pontiacs glided onto the RJ Lalonde ice Friday night looking fresh and in high spirits.
Keeping up the intensity for a large part of the three periods, the Pontiacs won 4–1 over the Storm on Friday night.
Shutting out the Grande Prairie Storm for the first two periods, the Pontiacs found success very early in the game getting two goals in the first two minutes.
Ethan Sundar was first Pontiac to earn a goal with an assist from Alex Power. The first goal was quickly followed by Alex Atwill who scored seven seconds later, receiving an assist from Ryan Koebel.
Pontiacs’ team captain Kash Rasmussen later scored with assists from Trey Funk and Jonathan Barker, bringing the score 3–0 early in the second period.
Before the Grande Prairie Storm could find the net once, the Pontiacs earned their fourth and final goal of the evening during a second period power play. The Pontiacs power play goal was earned by Alex Power who received the puck from Sebastian Tamburro and Matteo Giampa.
Pushing back into the game, the Storm’s Conner Rooney, tucked the puck around Matthew Henessey’s left skate before any player was the wiser. Earning the away team’s first and last point.
Creating more opportunities and making more than double the shots on net than their competitor, the Pontiacs came out with the results they wanted – a win.
Returning to the RJ Lalonde ice Saturday to face off against the Storm once more, the Pontiacs showed up with a unique sense of purpose and spark.
Prior to the game on Saturday, the Pontiacs players and coaching staff acted as Honour Guards for Victor Ringuette’s funeral. Ringuette was the owner of B&R Eckel’s and has been a fundamental supporter of the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs.
Swan explained without the support of Mr. Ringuette, the Pontiacs would not have been able to sustain a Jr. A franchise in Bonnyville. So, as the procession and Ringuette headed off for ‘one last check’ at the B&R Eckel's yard, the Pontiacs tapped their sticks as he left the church and headed down Main Street.
Before Saturday’s game Swan said, “The (team) is going to try and make sure we bring that same honour into our game tomorrow to give us a little bit more incentive to play for something that's way bigger than we are, and for a man that's really done so much for our community and for so many people in our community over his lifetime. Mr. Ringuette made a real impact and we want to be there and honour that.”
In their jerseys that don the B&R Eckel's logo on the back, the Pontiacs did just that Saturday evening.
Leading the first two periods in a similar fashion as Friday’s game with the Pontiacs scoring 4–0, it wasn’t until the last period when things really got shaken up.
The Pontiacs’ Austin Saint earned the first point of the evening with the help of Funk and Tamburro by taking advantage of a power play.
This was followed by a late period goal by Charlie Russell, the first of two he would score on Saturday night. Russell was assisted by Nick Traggio and Tamburro.
Holding off the Storm, the Pontiacs once again finished the second period 4–0. During the second period Power was able to gain a point for the Pontiacs unassisted. Saint was also able to earn his second point of the evening with the help of Atwill and Justin Stathopoulos.
In the third period, the winds had changed. The Storm came out hungry to take back the scoreboard. In the first 10 minutes of the third period the Grande Prairie Storm was able to garnish two goals, one earned during a power play. Beginning to narrow the gap, the game was still anyone's at 4–2.
Reinvigorated by the shifting score, Saint came out to earn a hat trick with the assistance of A.J. Macaulay and Tamburro.
With one last push to take back the game, the Storm pulled their goalie, which created the opportunity for Russell to score unassisted on the Storm’s empty net. Ultimately, the Pontiacs won 6–2 in an action-packed home game.
The Pontiacs will be back in action on Wednesday night at the RJ Lalonde Arena taking on the Sherwood Park Crusaders at 7 p.m.