Friday, August 22, 2008

Q&A with Nick Bonino

Sophomore forward Nick Bonino just may have set a BU record by tallying his first career point—assisting on a Boomer Ewing goal— just 17 seconds into his first college shift. He went on to record an impressive 16-13-29 line with the most goals by a Terrier freshman since Jay Pandolfo’s 17 in 1992-93.

Scoring has always come naturally to Bonino. The Farmington, Conn., native led his high school in points, then transferred to Avon Old Farms as a repeat junior and also led that team in scoring (26-30-56). He was the top scorer and co-MVP of 2006 Spring (Scholastic) Hockey Night In Boston and #2 scorer in the 2006 HNIB Major Showcase (14-19-33). As a senior, he captained Avon to the 2007 NEPHISA Div. 1 Championship, again leading the Winged Beavers with 23-43-66, finishing 3rd among all New England preps and earning U.S. Hockey Report’s Prep Forward of the Year award by a comfortable margin. In the 2007 NHL entry draft, he was selected by San Jose in the sixth round. Bonino recently took part in our Q&A interview series.

Q—Freshmen often take a while to adapt to the speed of the college game. Was there a fast or slow learning curve for you?
A— Personally, it was more of a slow learning curve my freshman year. Coming in I knew how fast and strong the older players would be, but I was still surprised when I skated with the team that first time. It was much more physical than anything I had ever played, and it definitely took some time to get used to.

Q—Do you have a most memorable moment of your freshman year?
A— The winning streak at the end of the year really sticks out in my mind as my favorite memory of last year. The Cornell game [at Madison Square Garden] was definitely exciting, and the Beanpot was a fun experience despite the loss, but winning all those games down the stretch brought a different atmosphere to the locker room. Everyone seemed so excited, and we were playing great hockey.

Q. You’ve played center and left wing for BU. Which position do you think is your strongest and where do you feel most comfortable playing? How do you see your role in the team’s offense?
A— I think I'm strongest at center, although I felt like I played well at wing last year during the couple of games I was there. At center, I get to touch the puck more, and I like being able to gather speed while moving, instead of from a stand-still on the wing. As for my role in the team's offense, I believe with the amount of offensive talent this team has it makes my role so much easier. It's much easier to produce points when you are playing with such talented players, including both the forwards and defensemen.

Q—You arrived at BU with a reputation for having great hands, but needing to improve your skating. While the improvement was during the season was evident, do you expect to be able to ratchet it up even more, working with Mike Boyle?
A— I think so. Coach Boyle helps out so much in the off-season, and the amount of guys in the pros that work out with Boyle is a testament to that. So far I believe I've made some good progress, but it will never be enough, and I'll have to keep working at it.

Q—Besides foot-speed, what else are you working hardest to improve?
A-- Mostly everything. I'm working hard to get bigger, stronger, and faster, and that happens in the weight room and on the track. Besides that, I try to work on my shot and my hands as much as possible, either getting open ice somewhere or shooting on goalies at camps in the area.

Q—Most observers cite your stick-handling ability as one of your strengths. Have you had to make any adjustments to your stick-handling to meet D1 competition? Can you do the same things as you did in prep/HNIB?
A— I have had to learn how to better protect the puck at this level, so my stick handling did have to adjust slightly to the college game. I didn't focus on it as much as my skating, however, because my hands seem to adapt quicker than other parts of my game.

Q--You were an early addition to the penalty-killing corps which is somewhatunusual for a freshman. What makes you a solid PK guy?
A-- I think it's my ability to anticipate where the puck will be, and I try to get there before the puck arrives. I was playing alot on the PK with Higgins, and I think it was easier because we both felt comfortable with each other.

Q—After earning co-MVP in the 2006 Spring Hockey Night in Boston event, you became a hotly pursued prospect. What led you to choose BU over Providence and New Hampshire?
A— It was a combination of things. The coaching staff at BU is incredible, and during my freshman year they lived up to their reputation. I remember when I was young I would always watch the Beanpot, and this played a part in my decision. Basically, BU is a great school with a rich hockey tradition, so I felt it was the best choice to make.

Q—Have you patterned your game after a pro or college player?
A— I wouldn't say patterned, but I definitely like to watch the NHL guys and take a few things from their game. I really enjoy watching Joe Thornton and Pavel Datsyuk, as each of them can control a game. You can learn things from really any pro, as well as fellow college players, so it's beneficial to watch the games when they're on TV and take things away from what you see.

Q—You recently attended San Jose Sharks Development Camp along with senior John McCarthy. Tell us about that experience and it will make you a better player.
A— It's a great learning experience for me personally, as the management, coaches, and scouts who run the camp have so much knowledge of the game. It's completely a development camp, and they stress that no one is being judged or rated. Instead, they encourage us to focus on the skills they are teaching, and this makes it much less nerve racking. The skating coach there is great, and I take alot of drills back from camp and work on them when I can.

Q—As an organization, San Jose tends to encourage its NCAA draft picks to develop in college. Have you discussed future plans with management?
A— Not at this point, and personally I don't think I'm ready. I'm very happy where I am, at BU, and I look forward to playing college hockey.

No comments:

Site Meter