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April 7, 2009 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Dog Days for Bonino

by Joseph Edwards/CHN Writer

It's funny how things have worked out for Nick Bonino. He's a major reason Boston University has made it to the Frozen Four, though a few weeks ago, he couldn't get off the bench.

Early in the season, Bonino was scoring in bunches. Through 11 games, the sophomore forward had 13 points, though they all came in six games. While his offensive game clicked, BU coach Jack Parker noticed that his defensive game was lacking. With Bonino's effort less than pleasing to his coach, he found himself watching Nov. 28th's game against Holy Cross from the sidelines.

"We had some talks. You might say we had a few words," Parker said, tongue in cheek, but intimating that Bonino wasn't exactly thrilled at the benching. "He wasn't moving his feet enough. He was relying on his hands, because that's where he's most gifted. We had a few talks. You might say we had some words."

For many players, that kind of treatment can send them further into a tailspin, especially one like Bonino, highly-touted and expecting to play. But whatever those words were, they sunk in. Upon his return to the lineup, Bonino reeled off five goals and an assist over his next six games. His offensive skills were never in doubt — but his defense flourished, too.

"Once we got him moving his feet again, his game blossomed, and mostly without the puck," Parker said. "He developed into a two-way player. He's the best defensive forward we have right now."

Bonino, who plays on a line with seniors John McCarthy and Brandon Yip on one the team's top defensive lines, has become less concerned with getting his name on the scoresheet and more with keeping the other team off of it.

"When the puck’s falling, it’s great, and when it’s not," he said after the team's Northeast Regional win over New Hampshire. "Last weekend I didn’t score but [McCarthy] and [Yip] did. As long are our line’s going, it doesn’t matter who scores. We just try to keep it out of our net.”

Music to a coach's ear, especially from a guy whose 47 points in 42 games put him in the top-10 in national scoring. Then again, you can't score without getting on the ice, something Bonino has been doing plenty since having it taken away. He's become one of the team's top penalty killers, and even potted a shorthanded goal in the Beanpot championship game — not too shabby for a guy Parker had concerns about defensively as a freshman.

Since his early days on the BU campus, NHL teams have taken notice of his progress. Drafted by the San Jose Sharks coming out of high school, he was dealt to Anaheim at this season's trade deadline.

It's safe to say this Terrier is out of the doghouse, and ready to be unleashed.

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