The Bonnyville Pontiacs extended their winning streak to seven games picking up wins over Lloydminster, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie last week.
Olivier Charest stopped 28 shots in regulation and three more in the shootout as the Pontiacs edged the Lloydminster Bobcats 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Derek Brown helped the Pontiacs carry the momentum into Fort McMurray on Thursday night scoring two goals in a 4-2 win over the Oil Barons.
Kyler Hehn carried a depleted Pontiacs squad past the Grande Prairie Storm scoring two goals in a 4-2 victory on Saturday.
Tuesday Dec. 1 marked the annual roster cut down day for teams across the AJHL. While a total of 17 moves were made across the league in advance of the day, the Pontiacs chose to stand pat.
“We worked so darn hard to recruit our guys and we make so many commitments at the beginning of the year, so we hate to give up on our guys early,” said head coach and GM Rick Swan. “We are also cognizant of the chemistry we have in the room as well. We decided that there wasn’t a player out there that would benefit us moving forward.”
Pontiacs victorious in shootout
After going 0-4 in shootouts to start the season the Bonnyville Pontiacs finally pulled a victory out in a shootout on Wednesday, squeaking past the Lloydminster Bobcats 3-2.
Goaltender Olivier Charest stopped all three shooters he faced in the one-on-one competition to pick up his 14th win of the season.
“It felt pretty good. I am happy,” said Charest. “I was a bit lucky on those last two shots, but we will take it for sure. I feel good to win for once in a shootout.”
Bonnyville overcame two deficits at the Lloydminster Centennial Civic Centre, down 1-0 and 2-1, en route to the victory.
Lloydminster’s Evan Tschumi found the back of the net at 14:43 of the second period to break a scoreless tie.
Five minutes later, with time ticking down in the middle period, Zach Mills ripped his 10th of the year past Bobcats keeper Alex Leclerc to tie the game.
Morgan Messenger put the Bobcats back out in front when he scored 12:17 into the final period.
The go-ahead goal held up for just over two minutes, before Brandon Whistle snapped one past Leclerc to tie the game 2-2 at 14:39.
Bobby McMann scored on the first shot of the shootout and Bonnyville walked away with a huge 3-2 victory over their rivals.
“When you do good things out there you are eventually going to get rewarded,” said Swan.
“It shows the character of this group that we stuck with it for the entire 60 minutes. We were finally able to win in a shootout.”
Pontiacs defeat last place Oil Barons
Bonnyville’s final trip up to the Casman Centre was a successful one as the team came away with a dominant 4-2 victory over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
The Pontiacs outshot the Oil Barons 43-23, throwing shot after shot on netminder Ravi Dattani.
Zach Mills opened the scoring in the second period, scoring at 11:39.
Less than two minutes later forward Derek Brown was able to get on the board with his sixth of the year.
“I was skating up the ice, Whistle hit Brinson (with a pass) and we were in on a two-on-one,” said Brown, describing the goal. “Originally I didn’t expect the pass, I thought Brinson was going shoot, but then he ended up saucing it over to me. It was a beautiful pass right on my tape and I buried it.”
The Brown goal allowed the Pontiacs to head into the second intermission with a 2-0 lead.
After Brandon Whistle scored 4:46 into the period, several defensive lapses allowed the home team to crawl back into the contest.
Damon Porter and newly acquired Will Conley notched goals for the Oil Barons 1:11 apart to bring Fort McMurray within a goal.
“We didn’t give up a heck of a lot but when we got away from our structure that is when we allowed them to capitalize,” said Swan.
Brown was able to give the Pontiacs some breathing room when he tallied his second of the game at 15:02 of the third.
“I was one-on-one, I ended up toe dragging put it between the (defenders) legs. The goalie poked checked it I hit it in my stride and it ended up top shelf,” said Brown.
The Pontiacs walked away with a 4-2 injury but it wasn’t without its consequences. Steen Pasichnuk and Bryan Gerstenfeld left the game with injuries.
Shorthanded Pontiacs weather Storm
The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs were forced to play short two players on Saturday night, but still managed to come away with a 4-2 win over Grande Prairie.
Injuries to Steenn Pasichnuk, Bryan Gerstenfeld, Garrett Jenkins, Josh Borynec and Josh Willams, along with Bobby McMann and Brinson Pasichnuk away at the World Jr. A Challenge tryout camp resulted in an under-manned Pontiacs squad on Dec. 5.
“We knew it was going to be a battle. We just had to go out there and do the job,” said Bonnyville forward Kyler Hehn. “At the end of the day if everyone does their job we are good enough to beat any team.”
Adversity hit the Pontiacs late in the first period when defenseman Gen Bryshun was tossed from the game for a hit from behind. The loss of Bryshun cut the Pontiacs down to just four defensemen for the remainder of the game. The Bonnyville defender was later suspended two games by the league for the hit.
Hehn got the Pontiacs offense going when he rifled one into the top corner 4:31 into the second period.
Grande Prairie’s Ian McLellan evened the score in the dying minutes of the third period, scoring with 2:58 remaining.
Erik Donald got the Pontiacs back infront when he scored shorthanded goal at 18:35, before the Storm equalized at 19:55.
The decisive goal of the game came 2:08 into the third period off the stick of Hehn.
“Alden gave me a nice pass I walked in a put it top shelf,” said Hehn of the goal.
Ryan Symington added one 2:24 later and the Pontiacs shut it down to pick up their 23rd win of the season.
Next up for the Pontiacs is a southern road trip. The team will head to Olds, Calgary and Okotoks from Dec. 11 to 13.