Bobby McMann snapped a wrist shot past the outstretched blocker of goaltender Tanner McCorriston 1:35 into overtime as the Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs defeated the visiting Whitecourt Wolverines 5-4 on Friday night.
The goal allowed Bonnyville to walk off to their 29th victory of the season and climb within two points of the Wolverines, who sit second in the north division.
“Overall I thought the better team won, even though it took us overtime to do it,” said Pontiacs head coach and GM Rick Swan.
The rapid development of rookie forward Zach Mills was quite evident on this night, as the 19-year-old, Cottage Grove, MN native led Bonnyville’s offensive attack.
Right from the opening faceoff the Pontiacs were winning all of the one-on-one battles, beating the Wolverines to loose pucks and firing shot after shot on the opposing goal.
It was Mills who finally got the Pontiacs on the board, redirecting a puck past an unsuspecting McCorriston at the 12:45 mark of the opening frame.
Mills’ 17th of the year gave Bonnyville a 1-0 lead after the first period, a frame which saw the home side outshoot the opposition 19-4.
Surprisingly, the bounces started going the Wolverines way in the second period and they were able to jump out to a sizeable lead.
Kevin Dominque and Hubert Delisle conducted a perfect two-on-one break, with Dominque flipping a backhand up over a helpless Olivier Charest 3:08 into the second period.
Just 3:50 later Delisle would notch a goal of his own, ripping a shot past Charest to give the Wolverines the 2-1 lead.
The visitors continued to capitalize on Pontiac blunders and notched a third goal ten minutes later, with former Pontiac Cory Santoro giving Whitecourt a 3-1 lead
“It is about being consistent and tonight at times we were inconsistent,” said Swan. “We have to make sure we eliminate those costly errors that allow teams to get back in it with us.”
With time dwindling down in the second, the tides turned and Bonnyville got the momentum back.
Forward Ryan Piche would start the Pontiacs comeback bid, snapping a shot past McCorriston from the slot to get Bonnyville back within a goal.
Minutes later, with 1:55 left in the middle frame, Derek Brown would take a beautiful cross ice pass from Chandler Klein and fire a wrist shot into the top shelf to even the game 3-3.
The game would stay tied until the 5:41 mark of the third period when a great single-handed effort by Mills would give the Pontiacs a 4-3 lead.
“I got a pass up the boards, cut to the middle and just tried putting it on net,” said Mills. “I didn’t expect it to go in.”
The goal held up throughout the third and the Pontiacs took a 4-3 lead into the final minutes of the game.
“We were thinking we had this game in the bag,” said Mills. “But you can never think like that. You have to play until the buzzer and we didn’t do that.
With 1:06 remaining in regulation Erik Pedersen snuck a shot past Charest and tied the game 4-4, sending the contest to overtime.
Overtime wouldn’t last long, with McMann sending the Pontiacs fans home happy just 1:35 into the extra period.