Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Nic Ponak (Abbotsford) and Brice Sharp (Mission) have quite a bit in common. Both have played on the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds for three (3) seasons. Both have a penchant for scoring. It’s no wonder they’re good friends.
This similarity led to a lofty goal. Before the start of their third and final Major Midget League (MML) season, Ponak and Sharp aimed to reach a combined total of 200 points by the end of their MML careers.
While they played with different minor hockey associations growing up (Ponak with Abbotsford Minor Hockey, Sharp with Mission Minor Hockey), they played spring hockey together in both Atom and Pee Wee. In their first MML season, Ponak was the T-Birds’ last release out of camp, and played in 10 games as an affiliate. Sharp made the team, but was released eight (8) games into the season and later played another ten (10) games as an affiliate. They were often paired together as line mates, where they combined for a total of seven (7) points.
Both made the full squad for their second season, and once again they were line mates. Ponak and Sharp each played 40 games, and combined for 99 points (55 points for Ponak, 44 points for Sharp).
This season has been an interesting one for the Thunderbirds, as they battled to a 17-18-5 record and squeaked into the playoffs in the eighth spot.
Prior to this weekend, Ponak had played in 35 games, with a total of 44 points (19 goals and 25 assists). Sharp had played 34 games and recorded 16 goals and 23 assists for a total of 39 points. That left the duo with a combined total of 189 career points, just 11 short of their goal.
They had two (2) more regular season games left; a series against the South Island Royals that had playoff seeding implications. While the team’s success was first and foremost, Ponak and Sharp definitely had those 11 points on their mind. In the first game, Ponak had four (4) points (1 goal and 3 assists), while Sharp had three (3) points (1 goal and 2 assists) in the 6-5 Fraser Valley win. With seven (7) points in hand, they had to score just four (4) the following day. While the Thunderbirds ultimately lost the game 7-4, they were able to pick up the points thanks to two (2) goals from Ponak and three (3) assists from Sharp, registering a final total of 201 points – exceeding their ambitious goal.
Next, Ponak and Sharp will lead Fraser Valley against the Cariboo Cougars, who have had the league’s best record all season long, finishing with a total of 190 goals for and just 88 goals against and a 29-8-3 record.
After this season, both will pursue the next level of hockey – Ponak has received interest from both the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). Sharp is interested in playing in the BCHL, after initially being unsure about his hockey future. Says Sharp, “This time last year, I thought I had played my last hockey game. This season has been so successful, I’m looking forward to playing more.” While they players may joke that they are a “package deal” it would definitely be in the interest of a future team to pick up both of them – who knows what goals they’ll set at the next level.