By: Andrew MENDLER:
It’s not often that a player gets to spend their entire Junior A hockey career playing for one team, but that’s exactly what Jr. A Pontiacs defenseman Redford Swan experienced during his time in Bonnyville.
In 2010, Swan moved from the Sherwood Park Kings midget AAA team to Bonnyville to play for the Pontiacs. Four years and 215 AJHL games later, Swan is leaving Bonnyville and heading to Edmonton for college.
“It was good. Not many players get to play for four years in one place,” said Swan. “For me, it was just kind of growing to be a part of the town and sort of falling in love with it. It took a little time to get used to it, but after that, it was like a second home to me.”
Swan spent 2010 to 2014 as a member of the Pontiacs and the Bonnyville community. On the ice he racked up 11 goals and 49 assists to go along with 316 penalty minutes. Off the ice he helped out in the community in many ways and made a lot of memories he says will stick with him for years.
“I have lots of memories,” said Swan. “Most of the fond memories are being out in the community, helping with the C-Schools or the cross walks on Halloween. Those are the kind of memories that stick out and the ones that I think I’ll remember more than anything.”
This past season, his 20-year-old year, Swan was part of the Pontiacs leadership, serving as an assistant captain and leading the team’s defensive core. Although the Pontiacs did not finish up the way many hoped, it was still a memorable Swan and his teammates.
“I thought that injuries kind of killed us a little bit and it took us a while to get out of the storm. Near the end of the season we were the hottest team in our league and we thought we were going to carry that into the playoffs,” said Swan. “I thought we had a strong couple of playoff games, just for whatever reason the bounces didn’t go our way. We had a strong push and I think the guys are going to be able to build on that for next year.”
Redford will be taking his game to Edmonton next season to play for the NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) Ooks in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC). Unsure of what he wants to pursue academically, he plans to take a year of Academic Upgrading and chase after an ACAC championship with the Ooks.
“There were definitely some other schools interested, but for me there were a few factors: financial factors and that I wanted to go to a championship team,” said Redford. “I wasn’t able to win a championship at the junior level, so putting myself into a position to win one at a college level was a goal of mine. With NAIT and the culture of winning they have I will definitely have a good opportunity to win.”
Head Coach and General Manager Rick SWAN feels that Redford’s time in Bonnyville has him prepared to succeed at the collegiate level and expects him to play well for NAIT and at the ACAC level.
“He plays simple and hard, and defends extremely well. He played against all of the other teams’ top players and had the opportunity to play on the powerplay. He is an under the radar guy, but he doesn’t flash offensively. On a defensive side he gets the job done. He is the first guy we would use in an offensive situation and the first guy we would use in a defensive situation.”
“I think he will be able to jump into a top spot right away. The coaches are excited to be able to get a guy who can jump in a play big minutes because of the foundation he got here in Bonnyville.”
As for the Pontiacs, Redford feels that the future is bright for the team. “I think the organization is in the best spot it has ever been in. It is run “first class” and the players are treated exceptional. All of the time and effort that the coaching staff and others are putting in to the team, the lounge and the dressing room, it would have been a treat to be a part of – the players returning are privileged to be a part of the organization.”