Tuesday, June 07, 2016

News from the NHL Combine; Bonino & the '09 Miracle

Four incoming freshmen--Kieffer Bellows, Dante Fabbro, Clayton Keller and Chad Krys-- and one Terrier sophomore, Charlie McAvoy, participated in the NHL Draft Combine in  Buffalo. A sampling of the media coverage:

“[Boston] is a cool city. It was definitely one of the reasons why I’m going there, but the big thing is the hockey and the coaching, and the recruits coming in,” said Fabbro, who said he expected to at least stick with the Terriers for a couple of years before turning pro. “I’m just blessed to be going to a great school in an obviously great city.

“I did interview with the Bruins [at last weekend's Draft Combine], but it’s one of those things where you don’t know what they’re thinking. I’m just grateful to come in here, get to work out and get a chance to do all of this. I’ll be getting to school in July to take classes and start workouts, and I’m just looking forward to getting settled in and comfortable there.”

“To me, he reminds me of Kevin Shattenkirk at exactly the same stage in his hockey career prior to his heading to Boston University,” said one veteran NHL talent evaluator. “He can do it all offensively, will be a productive power-play guy at the NHL level and will have enough size to play competitively at both ends of the ice. Fabbro plays with a great pace to his game, and is always looking for opportunities to push the puck. I really like his game.”

Keller:  Video interview
McAvoy: Boston HeraldComcast New England
Fabbro: NHL.com ; Comcast New England
Bellows: Flyerdelphia.com 
Krys: DrafteSite.comhttp://www.draftsite.com/nhl/player/chad-krys/22461/ 
USCHO: Combine Gallery
CSSNE: Five Prospects for Bruins fans 
SBNation: College players, prospects fare well at Combine.

Stanley Cup Playoffs

With a 3-1 win against the Sharks on Monday, Pittsburgh has a 3-1 lead and can win the Stanley Cup on home ice on Thursday. Nick Bonino is tied for second in playoff points for the Pens and has had a big impact in the face off circle and is among the leaders in blocked shots. THFB contributor Neal Boudette looks back at Bonino's impact in 2009 when an NCAA championship was on the line. 

Center of Attention: Penguins Star Bonino Was An Outsized Force in BU's '09 Miracle
By Neal E. Boudette

In this year’s NHL post-season, Nick Bonino is earning a well-deserved reputation for clutch goals and clutch plays. Terrier fans obviously know of the biggest goal he scored while wearing the scarlet and white – the game-tying one-timer with 17 seconds left in the 2009 national championship game versus Miami.

Bonino’s performance in Pittsburgh’s quest for the Stanley Cup is drawing plenty of recollections of that monumental goal. What gets less notice is what else Bonino did to put BU in a position to erase the two-goal deficit in the final two minutes in the Frozen Four final.

I’ve read plenty about that game and never have I seen or heard a full accounting of Bonino’s exploits. Colby Cohen was awarded the MVP for his overtime goal, and in the immediate excitement of that thrilling finish he was a fine choice for the award.

But if you go back and look at the tape (I do all the time, I use tape of the final three minutes to coach youth hockey players), it becomes clearer that Bonino was the true hero of that game. Simply put, once Jack Parker pulled the goalie with 3:32 to go, Bonino was all over the ice, the best player on the ice. He made play after play, touched the puck more than any other Terrier, won two critical draws, caused the turnover that led to the first goal with 54 seconds to go, twice kept BU possession alive and of course was in just the right spot when Matt Gilroy slid the puck to his right.

The 2009 team was loaded with great college hockey players. And in that critical moment, there were contributions from many of them -- Colin Wilson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Zach Cohen, Colby Cohen, Chris Higgins, Brandon Yip, Kieran Millan. But watch the tape and there’s one guy who’s constantly on the puck, making the little plays that have to happen before there can be a big play.

Here’s a breakdown of Bonino’s contributions:
3:32 to go – Parker pulls Millan, Bonino cleanly wins an offensive zone draw. Miami eventually clears the puck but losing that draw cleanly could have enabled Miami to move up ice with possession with an empty BU net.

1:19 to go – Offensive zone draw, Bonino wins it cleanly again, putting BU on offense. You can’t overstate the importance of that face off. Lose that draw, and the game is probably over. If Miami dumps it into the BU end, there’s probably not enough time to score two goals. It was the most important face off in the game, and Bonino’s execution was perfect.

1:02 to go – Bonino collects the puck behind the Miami net, skates to the side and shoots. The rebound goes to Miami D Cameron Schilling. If he clears it, again the game is over. Not enough time to score two goals. But Bonino pokes the puck from Schilling’s stick and it is left free for Zach Cohen to back hand into the net with 59.5 seconds left.

On the ESPN broadcast, Barry Melrose correctly noted the importance of Schilling’s failure to get the puck away from the goal. “Miami had a couple chances to clear that puck,” he says. “It was on their sticks. They fumbled it. They didn’t get it out.” Then he references Schilling: “You gotta get it out when you’re six-foot five…Miami has the puck. You see him lose it. Schilling, who’s one of the most solid defensemen. That’s gotta be on the wall. That’s gotta be around the wall when you get it.”

He stopped short, however, of noting that it was Nick Bonino who caused the critical turnover. He was credited with an assist on the play.

40 seconds to go – Wilson is checked off the puck on the right boards, but #13 wins the race to the puck and keeps possession for BU. He fired at the net. If Miami gets to that puck, it’s out of the zone and game over.

28 seconds go to – Wilson gets tied up behind the Miami cage, but again Bonino collects the puck, skates to the corner. He doesn’t just fire it or throw it toward the net. He feeds it back to the point, enabling BU to set up for another offensive chance.

19.5 seconds to go – Gilroy, in the left circle, moves around a Miami player sliding to block a shot. Bonino, at the right dot, reads the possibilities Gilroy has. A lot of players in Gilroy’s position would have just shot it at the net, but he sees Bonino and slides the puck to his right. Bonino, a left-handed shot, has correctly opened up his stances for a one-timer.

17 seconds to go – it’s in the net. Bonino has tied the game for BU.

And about 40 minutes after that, Terrier Nation is celebrating Natty No. 5. Thanks, Nick.

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