It’s been an interesting few months for the Bonnyville Pontiacs roster.
The summer started with plenty of optimism after signing Daniel Calobufo, Max Dorrington, and Cole Stofflet. Three American born talents with NCAA deals already in place and expected to do big things in Bonnyville. Unfortunately for Rick Swann and his team, not one of them reported to the Pontiacs camp this offseason.
Along with those three loses, the Pontiacs were now going to be without star forward Thomas Kramer who opted to go to college a year early to play for Babson College in the NCAA Division III.
However, it wasn’t all bad news for the Bonnyville.
They were given a massive boost with Matthew McKim returning rather than heading to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. McKim played a vital role in his first season in Bonnyville putting together an 85 points (24 goals, 61 assists) season in 57 games while playing alongside Lucas Thorne (College of Holy Cross) and Daine Dubois (Long Island University) who both graduated to NCAA Division I schools.
McKim was named the captain of the 2021 Bonnyville Pontiacs and is expected to play a massive role for them. Right now, he’s found a home on the top line playing alongside fourth-year Pontiac Kash Rashmusen and the newly acquired Sebestian Tamburro. The three of them combined for two of Bonnyville’s four goals on their opening weekend road trip in Grande Prairie.
Bonnyville walked away from those two games with a 1-1-0 record following a 5-1 loss – which was much closer than it seemed – and then a 3-0 bounce-back victory the following night.
The 5-1 loss on paper looks terrible, but if you open up the box score and take a look, it’s not all that bad. Bonnyville opened the midway through the second period courtesy of Michael Fairfax. They then conceded late in the second and early in the third to find themselves down 2-1. It then wasn’t until the final three minutes that Grande Prairie struck again with Edge Lambert scoring and then two empty nets from Cade Mason and Ethan Strang.
Bonnyville also had 43 shots on goal that game, and around 90 in total, but couldn’t get much by Washington Capitals prospect Garin Bjorklund.
“Bonnyville had a disallowed goal in the first and had chances on the powerplay with almost a full two minutes in the zone but just couldn’t find a way past (Garin) Bjorklund,” said Bonnyville Pontiacs play by play voice Michael Menzies. “Even when they finally broke through from (Michael) Fairfax they then took a couple of penalties and the firepower of Grande Prairie took over.”
On Saturday night, Bonnyville bounced-back tremendously with a 3-0 at Revolution Arena. They found a way to beat Bjorklund firing another 39 shots on his with two goals coming in the first period from Kash Rasmussen and Jaden York. The job was then finished off by Matthew McKim (University of Alaska-Fairbanks) in the third period with his first of the year.
Easton Hesse also did a great job between the pipes turning aside all 28 shots that he faced. It’s looking like he’ll play a major role again in this Pontiacs team after starting both games over the weekend. Last year, the Leduc native played in 50 games finishing with a 27-19-4 record along with a 2.99 GAA and a 0.913 save percentage.
“The early goal they got really lifted their confidence,” said Menzies. “It can be difficult to do that after losing a game that you thought you should’ve won.”
Coming back the following night to beat the Storm was a huge win for Bonnyville. They’ll now head into the week with plenty of confidence as they prepare to face the Whitecourt Wolverines this weekend.
Whitecourt hasn’t played a game since October 17th after somebody in their organization tested positive for COVID-19.
Over that break, they’ve made a couple of moves with one being that they brought in WHL defenceman Jake Lee. Lee was a high end picking the 2016 WHL drafting goal 18th overall to Seattle. He’ll now be with them until December 20th. The Wolverines also moved out defenceman Randen Schmidt to the Melfort Mustangs of the SJHL today.
Last season, the two of them had a close competitive season series with the Wolverines getting the edge with four wins out for seven games. I would fully expect the closeness to happen this weekend.
Pontiacs can listen to the game live with Michael Menzies over on HockeyTV or online at Lakeland Connect. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m for both games at the RJ Lalonde Arena.