Dupuis paces Pontiacs to pair of victories

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As seen in the Bonnyville Nouvelle

Four goals by forward Alden Dupuis led the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs to back-to-back 4-2 victories over the Drayton Valley Thunder at the RJ Lalonde Arena on Friday and Saturday nights.

Derek Brown notched a pair of goals as the Pontiacs knocked off the Thunder 4-2 on Friday night in Bonnyville to snap a three games losing streak.

Bonnyville came out hot to start this game firing shot after shot on Thunder third-string goaltender Levi Nelson, who was recently called up due to injuries to Drayton Valley’s two regular keepers.

With seconds ticking down in the first frame Chad Hurtubise busted down the right wing and dropped a pass back to Brown, who was entering the zone with speed.

“Chad (Hurtubise) kicked it out to me at the blue line and I just took a shot and it somehow found its way in.”

Brown snuck a quick wrist shot under the left arm of Nelson, scoring on Bonnyville’s 20th shot of the period, to give them a 1-0 lead.

While the Pontiacs outshot Drayton Valley 20-7 in the first period, the Thunder made some adjustments in the intermission and came out to dominate the second.

Matt McNeil scored 55 seconds into the second period to tie the game, before Mackenzie Harden slapped a massive rebound past Charest to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead.

Although Drayton Valley would out shoot Bonnyville 18-7 in the middle frame the two teams went into the intermission tied thanks to a late marker from Brown.

The Bonnyville forward was able to capitalize late in the period with Harden in the box, stuffing one past Nelson with 30 seconds to go.

“Piche made a beautiful pass backdoor and I wasn’t going to miss that,” said Brown on the goal.

The two teams entered the third period tied 2-2, setting up a huge final 20 minutes for the Pontiacs.

Just 3:49 into the third period the line of Dupuis, Zach Mills and Charlie Gawlicki crashed the Thunder goal.

Gawlicki jumped all over a loose puck in the slot and rifled it past Nelson to give Bonnyville the 3-2 lead.

Bonnyville would shut the Thunder down for the rest of the period and finally seal the deal on an empty net tally by Dupuis with 1:02 remaining.

“I thought that we really battled hard and everybody gave their all. We found a way to win tonight,” said Brown.

“We stuck to our game plan. That is what are coaches are always stressing. We had to rebound from that Calgary trip. It is huge for us to get these points.”

The two teams were back at it the next night in a game that was eerily similar to the first one.

Dupuis notched a hat trick, scoring a goal in each period of the game, to pace the Pontiacs to their 25th win of the season and second straight victory over the Thunder

“He is so great. Every game we have a coaches award and we could really name it the Alden Dupuis award,” said Pontiacs Head Coach and GM Rick Swan “It is for the guy who works the hardest and who leads by example.”

His first goal of the evening came at 18:29 of the first period when he took a feed from Zach Mills and walked in on goal off the right side wall.

“There was a battle down low, Mills chipped me the puck and I just went to the net and put a shot upstairs,” said Dupuis.

Dupuis’ perfectly placed shot snuck over goaltender Levi Nelson’s glove and under the crossbar to tie the game 1-1.

Just 45 seconds into the second period the Pontiacs were awarded a powerplay as Thunder forward Matt McNeil was sent off for slashing.

Five seconds into the man advantage the puck was sent to the goal mouth where Dupuis and Brandon Whistle started whacking away.

“I just battled in front and it found its way into the net,” said Dupuis. “I guess I got a stick on it.”

Dupuis 12th of the season held up until the dying minutes of the second period when Mackenzie Harden picked up the rebound of a Austin Yaremchuk shot and shoveled it past Pontiacs netminder Olivier Charest.

The goal tied the game 2-2 with 2:53 remaining in the second period.

Just like the night before the two teams entered the third period deadlocked at two goals apiece.

Again it was Bonnyville who broke the tie and took control of the game in the final 20 minutes of play.

Captain Steen Pasichnuk, who played limited ice time in his first game back from a lower body injury, fed the puck up the ice to Whistle.

The big 6’1”, 205-pound forward walked in over the blue line and snapped a wicked wrist shot just inside the left post.

Whistle’s 11th goal of the year, 4:27 into the final frame, gave Bonnyville the 3-2 lead.

Bonnyville then preceded to shut the game down defensively for the remaining 16 minutes until opportunity came for Dupuis to finish the hat trick.

With one minute remaining in the game the Thunder called a time out to discuss a play for a faceoff in the Bonnyville zone.

After the draw, the Pontiacs were able to scoop up the puck and seal the game.

“There is not much to say about that goal,” said Dupuis. “Chad (Hurtubise) battled hard along with wall, dished it to me and I got an empty net goal.”

For the second straight night Dupuis hit the empty net to extend the Pontiacs lead to 4-2.

With the win the Pontiacs will head into the Christmas break 25-9-7, sitting second in the North Division.

“It is great to finish strong,” said Swan.

“We knew we had a limp lineup for the whole month of December. It was a tough month for us. It was a tough grind. This break couldn’t have come at a better time for us.”

Bonnyville will be back in action on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3 when they travel down to Drayton Valley for two more games against the Thunder.

The Pontiacs next home game is Jan. 15 when Whitecourt rolls into town.

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