The Official Website of the bonnyville pontiacs
Team History

Mission Statement

"To provide an opportunity for hockey players to play at an elite level of their sport, emphasizing development of character, sense of community, education, promotion of excellence, and thereby providing entertainment to, and promotion of the Lakeland Region" - Board of Directors

Our vision is to offer the best program in the country to play Junior ‘A’ hockey and establish the Bonnyville Pontiacs as having the best culture (servant and respect) in all of hockey. Simply: “to do junior hockey better than it has ever been done before.”

Our mission is to offer athletes playing for the Bonnyville Pontiacs the very best coaching, culture, resources and environment while inspiring everyone (staff and players) to play and live to a high standard on and off the ice.

Our organization goal is to move all of our players on to the college level and have them prepared and ready for their first shift after they leave the Bonnyville Pontiacs. This will be obtained through an intentional, experienced development plan and a committed networking approach from our operations staff.

CORE VALUES

1. Community
2. Positive Growth
3. Treating People Right
4. Integrity

In a small community like Bonnyville people are always watching and expecting the Pontiacs to uphold and represent the tradition in a manner that they can be proud of. Actions and behaviours are always being monitored and discussed and being a part of this organization means that people in our community expect the program to be genuine and honest.
 

Pontiacs History

The Bonnyville Pontiacs organization was founded in 1952 as the host organization for the Bonnyville Senior Hockey Club. The club had previously been known as the Bonnyville Bruins, but in return for a new set of jerseys purchased by the local Pontiac car dealership, the team was renamed the Pontiacs. The team played its' first game on December 16, 1952.

In 1959 the Senior Pontiacs won their first of four consecutive Craig Cups, emblematic of the North Eastern Alberta Hockey League Championship. Back then Senior Hockey was the big time for most hockey players, and the N.E.A.H.L. was considered one of the top leagues in the province. Bonnyville imported and paid players as did most Senior teams. The Pontiacs consistently drew 1500-2500 people per game in the old Bonnyville Arena which had a capacity of 1200! The Senior Pontiacs went on to become one of the most successful senior hockey teams in Alberta, racking up many Provincial championships at the Senior ?B' and later, Senior A level as well as dominating the several leagues they played in over the years. The crowning glory came in the 1980-81 season when the Pontiacs met Winnipeg in the Hardy Cup Western final, after having defeated Victoria in the Alberta/B.C. playoffs. The Pontiacs lost the series in Winnipeg, but could always be proud of the fact that this small town team from rural Alberta had reached such heights. The Senior Pontiacs put Bonnyville on the map in hockey circles and were largely responsible for this community's long love affair with the game of hockey!

In 1973 the Bonnyville Junior B Voyageurs were launched, becoming Bonnyville's first Junior level hockey team. The program was unsuccessful and folded after two seasons, due in part to Junior-age players wanting to play for the higher-caliber Senior club instead. In 1980 Junior 'B' hockey was reintroduced when the Bonnyville Bees took to the ice. In 1987 the team was renamed the Bonnyville Sabres. The Sabres enjoyed several hugely successful seasons culminating with a League championship and Provincial Jr. B silver medals in 1990-91. The Sabres organization was a model for financial success and was as well-financed as many Junior A clubs.

With the success of the Junior 'B' program, talk turned to the possibility of bringing a Junior A franchise to Bonnyville. A committee of local business and hockey people was formed to explore the option and after a few months of discussion, it was decided that the Alberta Junior Hockey League should be approached. At the invitation of the League in early 1990, a delegation consisting of committee members Rick Cabana (Vice-president, Jr. ?B' Sabres), Dennis Germain (President, Senior Pontiacs), and Town of Bonnyville Recreation Director Martin Taylor attended an AJHL Board of Governors meeting in Edmonton to gauge support for a franchise in Bonnyville. Cabana and Germain assured the League that there would be community support for a Junior A team and Taylor answered questions about the suitability of Bonnyville's new arena and the availability of guaranteed ice times. Since the presentation was informal and fact-finding, no decision was made by the League at that time, but the delegation was encouraged to pursue with their application. However, for any proposal to succeed, it was absolutely critical to have the full support of the Junior ?B' organization since their program would have to cease operations in order for the Junior A program to operate. It was decided to delay Bonnyville's bid for a Junior ?A' franchise for one year due to the fact that the Sabres had been chosen as the host team for the 1990-91 Provincial Junior B Championship tournament and the team was a strong contender to win. After the Provincial tournament was completed, the Bonnyville & District Recreation Sports Association worked closely with the Jr. A organizing committee to assure that there was widespread support to the franchise application.

In early 1991 a group from Bonnyville consisting of Germain, Cabana, and Ray Prevost (President, BDRSA), attended a meeting of the AJHL Board of Governors to prepare for the formal franchise bid to be presented later at the AJHL's Annual General Meeting in June, 1991. After giving an informal presentation and answering questions from the Governors, the group received tentative approval to proceed with their plans and to return in June with their $50,000 expansion fee. In just over two weeks, the committee raised more than the required expansion fee through a Founding Fathers program. Businesses and individuals were invited to contribute $1,000.00 toward the purchase of the franchise in exchange for season tickets and recognition.

A third delegation consisting of Germain, Cabana, Prevost and Ned Brand, attended the League AGM in Red Deer to make their formal presentation. Much of the presentation had been prepared to exacting standards by longtime BDRSA executive members John and Rose Smith. On June 1, 1991 the League Governors approved Bonnyville as the 9th member of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, joining Calgary Royals, Calgary Canucks, Fort McMurray, Fort Saskatchewan, Lloydminster, Olds, St. Albert, and Sherwood Park. (Hobbema still had a franchise, but it was on a leave of absence and never did return to the league.) The famous Red Deer Rustlers had ceased operations just a few years before. Along with a franchise, the Bonnyville group bid for and received the hosting rights for the 1991-92 All-star game.

The group returned to Bonnyville excited with the reality that their community would be home to a Junior 'A' team, but also aware of the magnitude of the task before them. In just over two months they would have to ice a team. Immediate concerns included electing an Executive and Board of Directors, hiring a Coach, GM, deciding on a name for the new team, team colors, etc. And of course, there was a matter of two to three hundred thousand dollars that needed to be raised before anything could happen. But with the determination that is typical of Bonnyville, and the enthusiastic support of the business community, all goals were easily reached - and in some cases exceeded. The political structure for the new organization was the easy part. The Bonnyville & District Recreation Sports Association, which operated the Junior ?B' Sabres, now become the host organization for the Junior B group. Ray Prevost, who had been president of the BDRSA was elected president of the new group along with a full slate of 18 directors, some of whom had been with the Junior B organization, some from the Senior Pontiacs, and some who had no previous affiliation with either group. Dennis Germain was appointed League Governor. The Board held interviews and chose Ned Brand as the first Coach. Brand had been Coach of the Junior B Sabres the previous two seasons. Larry Paul was chosen as Assistant Coach and Kris Barnes was appointed as General Manager. The name for the team would be the Pontiacs in honor of Bonnyville's senior hockey team. The Senior Pontiacs logo a stylized Indian head from the hood ornament of a 1952 Pontiac car was adopted, and team colors were the Los Angeles Kings colours of black, grey and white. Eventually the group met all of the challenges before them and readied itself for the inaugural season of the Bonnyville Pontiacs Jr. A Hockey Club.

The first regular season home game was played September 14, 1991 against the defending league champion Calgary Royals before a huge crowd in the R.J. Lalonde Arena and resulted in a loss for the home team to the tune of 8-3. That first season would prove to be very difficult with wins few and far between. In hindsight, it might have been better for the team to have prepared for a year after receiving the franchise, as is common now, however, the Pontiacs improved in their second season and again in their third and worked through the many difficulties associated with being in a small market. With the tremendous support of the community, the organization has become a great financial success, and with dedication, perseverance, and Pontiac Pride, on-ice success will be achieved as well.

The Pontiac name has been associated with Bonnyville hockey since 1952, and just as the Senior Pontiacs were honored to pass on their name to the Junior A hockey team, so were the Jr. A Pontiacs similarly honored in 2001 when Bonnyville's Minor Hockey Association decided to rename all its' teams the Pontiacs, ensuring that the Pontiac legacy will live on for generations to come.

Over the years the Bonnyville Pontiacs have taken significant steps in the hockey world and has gained a great reputation of being one of the premier Junior 'A' organizations in North America.

Rick Swan is the winningest coach in Bonnyville Pontiacs franchise history and is the only coach to lead the program to 40 wins twice as well as play in the North Division finals. 

Additional recent notable Pontiac accolades include:

  • 106 college commitments since 2013/14.
  • Since 2013/14 the Bonnyville Pontiacs have had 22 AJHL league award nominations.
  • 2021/22 AJ Macaulay and Kash Rasmussen were named to the AJHL All-League North Team.
  • 2021/22 Austin Saintwas nominated as the AJHL Most Dedicated Player / AJ Macaulay - Most Outstanding Defenseman / Kash Rasmussen - Most Valuable Player Award.
  • 2021/22 Alex Power was named to the AJHL All-Academic Team.
  • 2020/21 Jaden York was named to the AJHL All-Academic Team.
  • 2020 two alumni - Brinson Pasichnuk (ASU) and Bobby McMann (Colgate) were 2020 Hobey Baker Award nominees.
  • 2020 three alumni - Brinson Pasichnuk (San Jose SHARKS), Steenn Pasichnuk (San Jose Baracuda) and Bobby McMann (Toronto Marlies) signed professional contracts.
  • 2019/20 - Thomas Kramer was named to the AJHL All-Rookie Team.
  • 2019/20 - Joel Ray was awarded the AJHL Inter Pipe-line scholarship and named the RBC AJHL Community Ambasador.
  • 2019/20 Matt McKim was named to the Alberta Junior Hockey League's All-Academic team.
  • 2019/20 - Lucas Thorne was nominated for the AJHL Most Valuable Player and Joel Ray for AJHL Most Dedicated Player.
  • 2019 - 6 Pontiacs were to Team AJHL who competed in the Junior Club World Cup in Sochi, Russia winning a silver medal (Josh Kroon, Marc Benoit, Daine Dubois, Jeremy Gervais, Roc Truman and Head Coach Rick Swan).
  • Five Pontiacs Alumni attended NHL Development Camps (2019): Brinson and Steenn Pasichnuk - San Jose Sharks, Kirby Proctor - Vegas 
  • Golden Knights, Bobby McMann - Nashville Predators and New York Islanders, Max Gottlieb - Los Angeles Kings.
  • Nine players were committed to NCAA schools in 2018/19.
  • In 2018/19 Lucas Thorne was named to the Alberta Junior Hockey League All-Academic Team. In addition, Luke Albert was also nominated as the AJHL Top Defenseman and Colby Muise as Top Goaltender. Luke Albert and Grayson Constable were selected to the AJHL All League North Team.
  • 2018/19 broke a franchise record for most wins (41) and least amount of goals against (145) in a season.
  • 2018/19 we had eight former Pontiacs wear letters at the college level (NCAA and ACAC).
  • 2017/18 Joel Ray was named to the Alberta Junior Hockey League All-Academic Team.
  • 2017/18 Kirby Proctor and Lucas Thorne were also named to the AJHL All-Rookie North Team.
  • 2016/17 Ryan Symington won the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Most Dedicated Player which was the fourth major (AJHL) league award honor for our organization in two years. Jake Gresh was nominated as a finalist for the AJHL Most Outstanding Rookie in the '16/17 season. Saniga and Gresh were named to the AJHL All-North Rookie Team as well.
  • Former Bonnyville Pontiac Spencer Foo (2012-2014) was a 2016/17 Top 10 finalist for the NCAA Hobey Baker Award and signed an NHL contract (2017) with the Calgary Flames. In the 2019/20 season Foo played in the KHL.
  • Five former Pontiacs who played in Bonnyville from 2012/13 to 2015/16 attended NHL Development Camps (2016) - (Brinson Pasichnuk - Montreal Canadiens, Bobby McMann - Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres, Spencer Foo - Calgary Flames, Alex Smith - Calgary Flames, Max Gottlieb - Vegas Golden Knights).
  • 2015/16 the Bonnyville Pontiacs surpassed franchise records with winning percentage (.742), most games ever won (40), most points (89) and least number of losses (11). That year there were four major AJHL award nominations for Most Valuable Player; Most Outstanding Defenseman, Most Dedicated Player and Coach of the Year which was also a franchise record.
  • In 2015/16 Forward Bobby McMann (Colgate) won the AJHL Most Valuable Player and was nominated for the CJHL Most Outstanding Forward.
  • Also in 2015/16 Defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk (Arizona State) won the AJHL Most Outstanding Defenseman and was nominated for the CJHL Most Outstanding Defenseman.
  • Both Bobby McMann and Brinson Pasichnuk won a gold medal with Team Canada West at the 2015 World Junior "A" Championships. Brinson Pasichnuk was also listed 115 on the NHL Central Scouting List that same year.
  • In 2014/15 the Bonnyville Pontiacs broke a number of franchise records for number of play-off games played in a single season; most wins in a play-off year; first time in the AJHL North Division final; highest attendance (single game of 2300 and post-season total of over 13,000).
  • Ryan Black was as a finalist for the AJHL Most Outstanding Defenseman, Brinson Pasichnuk a finalist for Most Outstanding Rookie.

In 2016 and in 2018 Bonnyville were hosts to the World Junior 'A' U19 Challenge featuring team Canada West, Russia, Czech Republic, Team Canada East, United States and Switzerland. 

The PONTIACS are an exciting team on the rise and they have gained one of the best reputations of treating their players better than anyone else in Junior A hockey.

Thanks to the amazing dediction of our Board, volunteers, community and sponsors, anyone paying attention in the hockey world can see that the Bonnyville PONTIACS can offer one of the best opportunities to players with respect to their on and off-ice development and help elevate their success beyond their Junior A journey.

Retired Jerseys

Mike GERMANN - number 20

Matt COOK - number 23

Mark LETESTU - number 11

Jon KALINSKI - number 23

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