Pontiacs Bolster Coaching Staff Heading Into Playoffs

The Bonnyville Pontiacs are pleased to announce that they have added Devan Praught to the Coaching Staff as the team prepares for the first round of the 2024 AJHL Inter Pipeline Playoffs. 

After coach Pouliot departed in order to coach professional hockey in Switzerland in January, the Pontiacs have been looking to shore up their coaching staff to support coaches Darick Ste-Marie and Ryan Blocha. 

“Darick and Ryan stepped up to the plate for us this season and continue to do a tremendous job,” said associate general manager Chad Nelson. Praught will join assistant coaches Darick Ste-Marie and Ryan Blocha for the Pontiacs first playoff game tonight (March 15th, 2024) at 7:00pm in the RJ Lalonde Arena. 

“When the opportunity arose to bring Devan in for the remainder of the season it made a lot of sense for our organization,” said Nelson. Devan brings a wealth of experience and has had great success with short term competitions which is an apt description for the AJHL playoffs.” 

“I think the timing of it all fit well and the opportunity to get back on the bench was really important for me and my family,” said new Pontiacs coach Devan Praught. 

“We have always thought highly of the Bonnyville Pontiacs organization dating back to our time at Notre Dame and having alumni who came here and had strong careers and then moved on to the NCAA, so we’re really excited to be here.” 

Praught joins the club following a 3-year stint with Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. Prior to that, Praught spent eight years with the Notre Dame hounds in the Saskatchewan midget league where he coached former Pontiacs Trey Funk, Ethan Look, Jared Power and Cody Lehner. 

“I’m really excited about this group,” said coach Praught. “It’s not a group that needs an overhaul or to make a U-turn. It’s just tidying up in some areas and the work ethic and passion is there. 

“We have an extremely great group of young men in the dressing room, and they really care for each other. It’s exciting to see what we can make happen here.” 

The Pontiacs finished the year fourth in the AJHL with 64 points in 57 games played and automatically advanced past this year’s play-ins series along with the other teams finishing in the top five in the regular season. The Pontiacs will be facing the fifth place seeded Drumheller Dragons in the first round of the playoffs. 

“I think probably the most exciting part is going to be getting to the games,” said Praught. “The guys have been off for a little bit here and they’re chomping at the bit. Just seeing the energy around town and the passion for the game of hockey and seeing what it’s like in the rink has been very exciting.” 

Devan Praught hails from Summerside, PE, and has been coaching since 2012. Most notably, Praught coached team Saskatchewan at the WHL (Western Hockey League) Cup in 2019 to a gold medal, was an assistant coach for Canada White at the U17 World Hockey Challenge last year, and won the 2018 Telus Cup with the Hounds. 

“The kind of things you can expect from me is I’m a passionate guy,” said Praught. “I am someone who’s invested, someone who’s going to put in the work and represent the team and the community at all times. 

“I think that you are going to see a family man. I am excited to have my family come up and join me here. My son is a passionate hockey guy, and this wouldn’t be possible without the love and support of my wife Lindsay. Also, my daughters are starting to understand and coming around the rink as well. 

“So, in the office it might look a little like Daddy daycare at times, but that’s exciting as well. 

Praught’s short term competition pedigree is sure to be a valuable resource for the Pontiacs organization as the team is just hours away from the start of their playoffs and chase for the franchise’s first Championship. 

“There is an internal belief that they can do the job,” said coach Praught. “I was impressed with the work ethic and where the team was at when I came in and got on the ice with them. Looking at the standings and watching videos is one thing, but seeing that drive that they have every day, as I mentioned, it’s a tight dressing room and I think it it’s just more or less kind of trying to guide the ship a little bit. 

Working with the coaches who have a done a great job here to this point and taking their feedback on the group, letting them have their input on our day-to-day operations, and just trying to guide the ship in the right direction and hold everyone accountable to a high standard that we have. 

The goal here is to win and bring a championship back to Bonnyville. 

“I am grateful for the opportunity; it means a lot to me and my family to get back into the game and I am also grateful to the Swift Current Legionnaires and Todd Horning for having me around for the past few months. 

“We wish them all the best in playoffs and we’re watching from here in Bonnyville, and I’m excited to have the family come here and be a part of the community.”