Ayrton Nikkel Hired as Head Coach

As of May 13th, 2024, Ayrton Nikkel has been hired as the Head Coach of the Bonnyville Jr A Pontiacs.

Coach Nikkel hails from Kelowna, BC and joined the West Kelowna Warriors as an assistant coach in 2019. He was later promoted to assistant general manager with the Warriors in 2022, while retaining his coaching duties.

“We are super excited to welcome Ayrton to Bonnyville and the Pontiacs Organization,” said associate general manager Neil Langridge.

“Creating some stability at the head coach position after moving coach Pouliot on to the Swiss pro league was crucial for us in our search.

“Ayrton will bring a youthful exuberance to the Pontiacs. The community can expect a hard-working coach that will be involved and engrain himself in the Pontiacs staff and community initiatives.”

This will be the first position within the AJHL and first time as a head coach of a junior hockey club for the 28-year-old bench boss.

“I am excited for the opportunity to continue working with exceptional athletes that are dedicated in their pursuit of excellence,” said coach Nikkel.

“I am a knowledgeable hockey mind that is dedicated to developing players and preparing them for college hockey and beyond.”

Nikkel says his coaching style revolves around the group of players on the team. Putting the players in the best situation for individual success will promote team success.

“I am honoured and excited to join an organization with the culture of the Pontiacs and a fan base that supports them,” said Nikkel.

“I expect us to continue building upon the culture of the team and the town of Bonnyville.”

Coach Nikkel’s experience around high-level junior hockey will be a great source to pull from to help develop the Pontiacs and Bonnyville’s next generation of hockey talent hoping to follow the likes of Pontiacs NHL alumni such as Bobby McMann, Mark Letestu, Justin Fontaine, Stanley Cup Champion Nolan Pratt, and more.

“Our league’s landscape has changed over the last 6 months and now so has the way that we need to approach our player recruitment and player development,” said fellow associate general manager Chad Nelson.

“We look at this signing as a big step in terms of creating the most positive development environment we can for our current and future athletes.

“Ayrton aligns with the long-term vision of this program and we are excited to move forward and support our players with a great staff and resources.

“There are great young players who will need homes and opportunity and we want to show players and families that our organization will be a great landing spot for that to take place.”

Pontiac fans will be able to meet Coach Nikkel and the rest of the Pontiacs team in person for the first time at the Pontiacs Annual Golf Tournament on August 24th, 2024, at the Bonnyville Golf and Country Club.

“I would like to thank the entire Warriors organization for the last 5 years,” said Nikkel. “It has been an honour and a privilege to have coached where I grew up playing.

“I have built relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime and would like to specially thank all the West Kelowna players, past and present, as well as Simon Ferguson, Josh Gorges & Chad Carder for grinding on the ice and in the office with me every single day.”

Coach Nikkel joins a Pontiacs team that has had two coaches in the last five years directly move onto coaching in a professional league.

The most recent being the Yaks previous head coach Mario Pouliot who moved onto the Swiss Pro League last season.

The other is TJ Millar who moved on from the Pontiacs for a coaching position with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL back in 2021.