The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs took the energy and emotion from a pre-game ceremony, which saw Mark Letestu’s No. 11 raised to the rafters of the RJ Lalonde Arena and dominated the Olds Grizzlys from start to finish.
Excitement generated from the presence of the ex-Pontiac captain, now Edmonton Oilers forward packed the building and gave the Pontiacs a huge boost.
“Certainly Mark added to the excitement here. We had parents coming in from all over North America who added to it. The players wanted to play well,” said Pontiacs Head Coach and GM Rick Swan.
Josh Borynec sent the crowd of 1,452 into a frenzy when he scored his fourth goal of the season just two minutes into the game.
Six minutes later, with Olds Braden Barker in the box for kneeing, Brinson Pasichnuk whipped a wrist shot from the point through a screened Ben Giesbrecht to put Bonnyville up by two.
“The excitement was similar to a playoff game last year, as we had people in here at warm up, and I think that allowed guys to get more of a jump,” said Swan.
With an early two goal lead and momentum in their favour the Pontiacs kept their foot on the gas and dominated every aspect of the game right from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer.
By the time the first period came to an end Bonnyville led 2-0 and had outshot the Grizzlys 24-4.
While Olds would push back in the second there was no letting up from the Pontiacs lethal offensive attack, which kept hammering Giesbrecht.
After Tyr Thompson ripped a shot past Gunnar Neilsen to get the Grizzlys on the board, the Pontiacs answered back with two goals in a span of 17 seconds.
Captain Steenn Pasichnuk, who has been seeing increased time playing the point on the powerplay, was able to tee up a blast from the blueline and beat a distracted Giesbrecht at the 12:03 mark.
Before the goal could even be announced, Chandler Klein picked up the rebound of a Piche shot in front and tucked it inside the left post to put the Pontiacs up 5-1.
Chase Olsen would strike on the powerplay for the Grizzlys sending the game into the second intermission with the Pontiacs leading 5-2.
Just 32 seconds into the third period Kyler Hehn spotted Chad Hurtubise streaking towards the Olds goal, who took a pass and flipped it over Giesbrecht’s shoulder.
“I think everyone was doing their part today, so that contributed a lot,” said Hurtubise. “We were getting pucks to the net and getting bodies to the net, which resulted in a lot of opportunities.”
While saddled with a 6-2 loss Giesbrecht stood tall in goal stopping 56 of the 62 shots he faced.
As for the Bonnyville’s netminder, Neilsen was able to pick up his second career AJHL win and appeared to be at ease in the Pontiacs crease.
“This was the second game for Gunnar and we need to get him in some more AJHL action,” said Swan. “If something happens (to Olivier Charest) we have to have a reliable guy who feels confident.”