Bonino A Force In BU's Rally
by Matthew Conyers/CHN Staff Writer
by Matthew Conyers/CHN Staff Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C. For Boston University sophomore Nick Bonino, this was a first — dehydration.
Never before had the Connecticut native experienced a set of spins like this, let alone in a hockey game. As if to compound the matter, it was during the biggest game of his career, a national semifinal.
“I was very dehydrated,” Bonino said. “I started passing out a couple times. [Larry] our trainer handed me the Pedialyte and I had a couple cold palettes under my gear.”
Those remedies weren’t as necessary Saturday.
Bonino — playing on the emotion only a title game can bring, and improved health — helped to lead Boston University to one of the most miraculous comebacks in Championship game history with a 4-3 overtime victory.
Down two goals, Bonino assisted on a goal from Zach Cohen to bring the Terriers back within one with 59 seconds left. Then with 17.3 seconds left in the game, Bonino made even more magic by finishing off a pass from Hobey Baker winner Matt Gilroy to force overtime with a 3-3 tie.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Bonino said. “We pulled the goalie with about four minutes left and I just remember looking up and down the bench and it was kind of quiet. A couple guys just got up and were like, ‘Let’s go, we can do this.’
The second goal happened before Bonino could even let the slightest bit of doubt into his mind.
“The puck is behind the net and I kind of tried a wraparound,” Bonino said. “It bounced out and the kid tried to clear it and get his stick on it and Zach Cohen, johnny on the spot, is able to sneak it through. He’s had goals like that all year where he sneaks them by.
“So that was good. I remember celebrating behind the net and we’re like ‘we’re not done. We have a couple more.’”
Next, it was time for Bonino’s finest heroics. But first Gilroy, the Hobey Baker Award winner, had to give the setup.
“What else can you say about that pass from Matt Gilroy?” Bonino said. “It’s unbelievable. He saw me and I saw it in his eyes. He looked at me, faked the shot and dragged it around the guy so I knew it was coming. I was wide open and saw me and obviously I tried to put it on net. I was aiming anywhere, I just hit it as hard as I can and it squirted by the goalie.”
This type of goal in this type of game is exactly what legendary coach Jack Parker expects of Bonino, who was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the sixth round of the 2007 draft.
“We won that game because big-time players make big-time plays,” Parker said.
“In my mind, players did something that needed to get done and it wasn’t my doing. I’m so proud of them.”
All of it led up to the game winner from Colby Cohen with 8:13 left in overtime.
“I was like please ‘put the puck in the net’” Bonino said. “I didn’t see where the puck went off. I was pretty quick off the bench. It was probably the quickest I’ve been off the bench all year.”
In Bonino’s opinion, the rally can be linked back to the words of former BU player Mike Eruzione, who spoke to the team before the NCAA tournament.
“We had Mike Eruzione in the locker room so his ‘Miracle on Ice’ kind of rubbed off on us,” Bonino said.
“He never won a national championship game so he kind of stressed to us this is something you want to win. It was just a great feeling to win it as a team. As coach Parker said ‘all the alumni were watching.’''
Saturday, the alumni were indeed watching across the country, but they also helped BU forge their comeback in Washington.
“I thought at the opening face-off we were at an away game,” Bonino said. “The ‘Go RedHawks’ chants were pretty loud. I think we started to take over the arena at the end of the game. As the game wore on and it went longer, they never lost hope. They had to wait.”
After the game, Bonino was flooded with messages from his legion of supporters back home in Connecticut where he played high school hockey in Farmington and prep school hockey at Avon Old Farms.
“I got a lot of texts, I only sifted through about five of them. I got about 40 more.”
He also has plenty of supporters on his own team.
“It just shows he’s a big-time player,” Senior Jason Lawrence said. “The cream rises to the top.”
Bonino’s emotions helped push aside any health concerns in the big game.
But it was a little different on Thursday.
“I think it was because we didn’t play a game in a few weeks,” Bonino said. “The game kind of wore on me and I think a couple of other guys were battling it too. In that game Wilson and Higgins came through clutch as they’ve had all year.
The pedialyte and the cold packs helped a bit but still didn’t let Bonino overcome the health struggles.
“It was just that it was hot out here, it was humid,” Higgins said. “The heat just kind of got to me.”
Yet when the Terriers needed him most. Bonino was there.
“He seems to come through in the clutch when we need and it just shown [Saturday] how good he is,” Lawrence said.
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