Pontiacs Head Coach Turns Pro

The Bonnyville Pontiacs have announced that Head Coach Mario Pouliot will be leaving the team to coach professional hockey overseas in Switzerland effective Thursday January 11th, 2024. 

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the board members, Pontiacs staff, and all the players I had the chance to meet and work with,” said Mario Pouliot. 

“The first time I put my foot in the door I was given a warm welcome by everyone. I will miss all the front office staff, my coaching staff, players, and C2 staff as well. The RJ Arena was home away from home.” 

This will be Mario Pouliot’s first crack at coaching hockey in a pro-league and will be doing so with HC Sierre of the Swiss League. 

“I am very excited to be starting a new chapter in my life coaching pro in the Swiss league,” said Pouliot. “But I am mostly excited to be close to my daughter and three grandkids again. It’s an amazing feeling and I can’t wait to be with them.” 

Associate general manager Neil Langridge confirmed assistant coaches Darick Ste-Marie & Ryan Blocha will take over all bench duties for the remainder of the 23-24 season as the yaks look to close out the year in winning ways. 

“It’s a very tough situation, but the team is in good hands with Neil, Chad Nelson, Darick, Ryan, and Chad Mercier,” said Pouliot. “The team is playing better and is ready for a good second half of the season. 

“It’s just a matter of being more consistent the way they play. I am more than confident the boys will have a strong end to the year.” 

Following the January 10th trade deadline, the Pontiacs currently sit in eighth place of the AJHL with 45 points in 42 games, just one point shy of tying with the sixth place Drumheller Dragons. 

“The Pontiacs organization is happy for Coach Pouliot to be achieving one of his dreams by becoming a head coach overseas and being closer to his family,” said associate general manager Neil Langridge.  

“Just like with our players, we are thrilled to help our coaches move onto the next level. Mario is the second coach in four years we have moved onto the pro-ranks, and we wish him nothing but the best and thank him for his time spent with the Pontiacs organization.” 

The last coach that turned pro from the Pontiacs organization was TJ Millar who left the yaks for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL back in the 2021-2022 season. 

“My time with the Pontiacs got me back heading up a team behind the bench,” said Pouliot. “Being able to keep improving my ability to develop young hockey players and being active again, all of it has helped me get this opportunity.” 

“We knew bringing a coach of Mario’s caliber into our organization would propel our program to the next level in junior hockey and he did not disappoint,” said Langridge.  

The Pontiacs first game back in action following the trade deadline is Friday January 12th, 2024, against the Okotoks Oilers in Bonnyville, AB at 7:00pm.