Hometown Pontiac in driver's seat

SCOTT FISHER, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 12:28 PM ET

Justin Fontaine is playing under the microscope and loving every minute of it.

The 19-year-old right winger has spent his entire life in Bonnyville.

So suiting up for the hometown Pontiacs was a goal from Day 1.

"There's a lot expected of me," Fontaine said. "Some people don't like playing in their hometown but I love it. It's nice knowing everybody in the community, you get a lot of support."

He gets to hang out with his friends, eat home-cooked meals and sleep in his own bed. Those are luxuries most junior players don't have.

When he steps on the ice, it's time to perform. Fontaine has been doing just that, leading the Pontiacs in scoring with 14 goals and 32 points in 21 games (prior to last night).

GM/head coach Chad Mercier said having Fontaine and fellow Bonnyville product Lucas Isley in the lineup has been important for the program.

"We have a lot of local talent and they're key for us," Mercier said.

"Our top two leading scorers, Justin and Lucas, are both local guys. So we don't just have local talent.

"We have local talent that contributes in a big way. That helps from an interest standpoint and it makes the recruiting easier."

The Pontiacs opened the season with a pair of wins before falling on hard times.

But they are 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 and were looking to extend a three-game winning streak that includes huge wins over Grande Prairie and Spruce Grove.

"I was getting to know our team and getting to know our league, so record-wise, I don't think I put any expectations on where we'd be at," Mercier said of his club's 11-11-1-2 mark.

"Our expectation has been to get our team game and our work ethic up to where it needs to be and I think we've made a lot of strides in those areas.

"Early on, we were finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win. Our offence sputtered because a lot of these guys were used to scoring at will last year. When they hit that dry spot, and Justin was one of them, frustration set in."

Fontaine took a five-game point streak (8 goals, 14 points) into this weekend's road trip.

After last season's 81-point campaign, the 5-ft. 10-in., 160-pounder was aware big things are expected of him.

"I knew the expectations would be a little higher than they were last year," he said.

"But I was just hoping to have the same kind of season and focus on the team.

"We're pretty young and we have a new coach so we've been learning a lot of systems.

"I think we just started buying into what he was saying and things have come around."

Fontaine, who graduated high school last spring, works for B&R Eckels Transport and also spends time working with young children through the Pontiacs.

He'll pack up his bag next year and head to Minnesota on a full scholarship with the Div. I Bulldogs.

ICE CHIPS:

Four AJHL players were selected to play in the CJAHL Prospects Game in Vernon. Calgary Canucks sniper Bennett Royer will join Okotoks Oilers goaltender Bradley Eidsness ... A half-dozen AJHLers have been selected to play for Team Alberta at the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse (Feb. 24-March 3).


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