The Bonnyville Pontiacs organization is a strong supporter of continuing education. The organization has developed a positive working relationship with Notre Dame Catholic and Bonnyville Centralized High Schools as well as Portage College, allowing players the opportunity to complete and continue their education while a member of the Bonnyville PONTIACS.
High school aged players are enrolled and become an active participating member of the high school. We expect players to attend classes regularly, including gamedays and following road trips, and to continue to maintain or surpass previous grades. Post-secondary aged players are encouraged to participate in one of the first year college courses offered through Portage College, attend regularly and strive for excellence. All players are encouraged to take part in the SAT Prep Course paid by the PONTIACS and held in conjunction with Portage College. The course prepares players for the SAT through classroom sessions and practice exams, thus allowing them the best opportunity for NCAA advancement. The AJHL is consistently regarded as one of the premiere leagues for NCAA, WHL, CIS, or professional career and educational advancement.
At the rink, players are expected to continue learning the fundamentals and team tactics of hockey. Video is prepared daily using Gamebreaker Sportscoding, the most advanced sports video editing system.
Bonnyville Pontiacs Junior “A” Hockey Scholarship
The Bonnyville Pontiacs Junior “A” Hockey Scholarships recognize the academic and community excellence of graduating Bonnyville Pontiac players as well as provide an incentive and means for these players to continue with their post-secondary education.
In order to qualify a player must:
Payment of award will be presented as proof of enrollment is received.
Each application must be completed in its entirety with all requested information including a current academic transcript. The Committee will select recipients based on academic standing and community involvement.
The deadline for submission of applications is May 30th of each year.
Alberta Junior Hockey League
For NCAA bound players looking for scholarships, the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League) becomes a juicier offer each year. This league is producing higher draft and higher quality scholarships each year, and AJHL hockey is quickly rivaling that of its neighbors to the West and bigger leagues out East.
Bantam and midget players are scouted and eventually added to a team’s “white card” list. This list is a way for teams to protect a maximum of five players before they become full-time AJHL hockey players. It ensures that you will play for the team who signed you, not somebody else in the league. If you are under 18, a parent must sign for you. There is no minimum age to sign a player, and players do not need to be on a white card to be an affiliate. This system is, essentially, a form of a five-player protected list. As an affiliate player, if you are not officially carded by an AJHL hockey club, you become a free agent again; free to sign with anybody throughout your midget season.
Affiliated and white card players may be called up at 15 years old. Any white cards who step on AJHL ice must be signed to an additional card by filling out an affiliate form. However, only one may dress per team, per game. This 15 year-old player counts toward the 16 year-old restrictions the league employs (two per team). Being affiliated with a major junior club has no bearing on Junior A affiliation, including maximum games played as an affiliate. All affiliates must be signed by January 9th in order to be called up later in the year. A team can sign five affiliates for up to ten games each. This leads to somewhat of a rotation of affiliate players by coaches, or even not calling up certain affiliate players until later in the season so they can be used at more critical times.
AJHL hockey is a little more tough and systemized (depending on the opponent) than other Junior A leagues. The Alberta Junior Hockey League has two divisions, North and South, with each team getting to play every other. The South Division is great for travel but has some real “barns” to play in. The North division has longer road trips, but at least the stands will be packed when you get up there. Some places have great rinks.
What to expect
There is room for every type of player in the A.J.H.L - small, large, finesse, rough, defensive, offensive. It’s quite well-rounded. You’ll see some high-end players getting drafted and teams with a lot of depth going deep in playoffs. In other words, when a team is good, it is really good.
Certain teams seem to find players from out-of-province that really enhance a team’s potential. Like any league, the AJHL teams who do the best also have the best recruiting practices and reach. With the Mac’s tournament hosted right in Calgary, you’ll certainly get a look from all teams, and a lot of the AJHL hockey talk shifts its focus to this Christmas tournament when the league shuts down.
Traditionally, the Alberta Junior Hockey League opens up training camp earlier than other Junior A leagues in the West. Most camps happen in mid-August. then a long exhibition schedule gives scouts an opportunity to see a new class of players before the regular season opens during the second week of September. AJHL hockey stops after Christmas and doesn’t fire up again until the new year, creating a longer Christmas break than most leagues.
In recent years, the AJHL has received an increasing number of college commitments for its players. The 97 scholarships awarded in 2011-12, when Division I, had a slight lean toward the old WCHA and CCHL conferences, located more in the Mid-West and Western States and Alaska. There was also a significant amount granted from NAIT and SAIT, local Alberta colleges. Ultimately, if a player is good enough to receive a Division I scholarship, he can do it in Alberta.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League consistently has NHL picks too, having four chosen in the 2012 entry draft, second most in Canada. The league never seems to fall below third-most in the country for draft picks.
Past alumni of the AJHL include Mark Messier, Ken Daneyko, Wade Redden, Chris Phillips, John Davidson Jim Playfair, Sheldon Souray, Lanny McDonald, Lindy Ruff, Mike Vernon and various Sutter brothers. More recent alumni are Dany Heatley, Rene Borque, Mike Comrie, Scott Hartnell, and Devin Setoguchi. Joe Colbourne and Mason Raymond were drafted right out of the AJHL in the first and second round.
In 2012, the AJHL sent eight players to the CJHL Prospects Game. This was the second most of any league in the country. For 2013, an AJHL team will now be limited to a maximum of 4 players on the roster that have each played in 41 or more lifetime CHL games. Players having played less than 41 CHL games are not subject to this limitation.
In late September the league holds an annual showcase. This is a three day event where regular season games are played back-to-back over the three days, allowing scouts to congregate in one spot to see new players. The Showcase is typically attended by all 59 NCAA Division I schools as well as Division III, WHL and NHL teams.
In years past, there was debate if the Alberta Junior Hockey League held an advantage over B.C. due to its playoff format where top teams receive a bye. This could potentially lead to the Alberta champion playing one less playoff round than the B.C. champ. However, B.C. has now shortened its playoff schedule. These two leagues combine with Saskatchewan and Manitoba to compete for the Western Canada Cup. The winning team moves on to the national championship.
The 2012/13 National Champion is the Brooks BANDITS from the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
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