Nick Bonino was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the sixth round (No. 173) in the 2007 NHL Draft and his rights were traded to the Anaheim Ducks in March 2009. It’s been in Anaheim where Bonino has flourished as a pro hockey player. And perhaps he can bring his penchant for winning to the Ducks this season.
Kathryn Tappen: You played under legendary prep school coach John Gardner at Avon [Conn.] Old Farms. Describe the experience of being a part of such a hockey culture there.
Nick Bonino: It was very special for me because I grew up [in] the town over and Avon Old Farms is such a staple of hockey in the area that everyone wanted to play there and go watch games there. To get a chance to attend the school, learn from coach Gardner and play with a lot of great players -- my linemate was Cam Atkinson over in Columbus -- was a great experience. It’s fun to know you’re going to a great school where players like Brian Leetch, Quicky [Jonathan Quick] have come out of; it helped me in my progression as a hockey player.
KT: You captained a New England Championship hockey team there in 2007.
NB: We had a great team that year and it’s fun to win championships. Avon is an all-boys' school, so everyone is that much closer. You're living together, hanging out all the time and you form really good bonds. It's great to have that memory.
KT: You’re no stranger to winning championships. You won the NCAA championship at Boston University playing for another legendary coach, Jack Parker.
NB: I have been blessed with great coaches my whole career. I can't say enough about coach Parker. I have so much respect for him. He knows everything. He was great to play for and we had such great teams there. That really showed in my sophomore year when we won the championship. I think everyone would say that you want to win the NCAA championship title game 6-0, but the way we did it was that much more memorable [4-3 in overtime]. It’s not every day that you see a team down a few goals in the final minute. We heard so many stories about Miami University saying that they were buying champagne, and then we were able to go and win it. It was so special and something we'll remember forever.
KT: The celebration that the city of Boston and Boston University gave the team was designed around the professional championship titles in Boston. What was it like to be a part of the spirit within the city?
NB: I'm a Red Sox fan and we were there in 2007 when they won the World Series and we lived right next to Fenway Park. We got to see how the city celebrated, the duck boats. When we won the NCAA championship we got to do our own duck-boat parade and drive down Commonwealth Avenue. We didn't think anyone would show up and it turned out to be thousands of people and fans cheering us on.
KT: Speaking of the Sox, as fate would have it Anaheim was in town Oct. 30 to play the Bruins the following night. Just so happens that was Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park. I hear you managed to get into that game.
NB: It was amazing. We saw on the schedule a couple weeks before that it might line up. My trainer here in Anaheim, Sean Skahan, is a huge Sox fan since he's from Massachusetts. He told me that we were going to be in town for Game 6. The way the stars aligned. We had our practice at BU, which was awesome. Then taking it all in at Fenway Park for the game, everyone was so loud all night and then the place went crazy when [Shane] Victorino hit it off the wall. It was just so amazing to be a part of. I went with Cam Fowler, who is a Tigers fan, but he was a huge Sox fan that night.
KT: How excited are you to take part in the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series, playing an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium against LA Kings?
NB: It should be a lot of fun! I was lucky enough to be a part of it at Fenway Park while playing at Boston University. This will be a lot different, playing in a sunny climate. It's going to be really special. It's cool to see how the sport has grown in California. I think it's great to have guys like Emerson Etem here, helping grow the sport since a lot of kids look up to him. So hopefully we get a lot of fans that don't know much about the sport but discover it at that game. People will be there just because it's an event, and hopefully we can turn them into hockey fans.
KT: You were known to make intricate puck statues before games at BU. Do you still do that?
NB: (laughs) Yeah, I do. Sometimes I'll try to skate to the bench here in Anaheim and try to put a few pucks on their edge. Nothing like BU, though. I can't really sit still. I would go on the bench and craft what I thought were amazing displays of art, but I don't think anyone with artistic ability would agree.
KT: Is your name still on top of the whiteboard in the BU Hockey Ping Pong Hall of Fame?
NB: It should be. That's my best sport of all my sports. Just ask Ryan Getzlaf about that. We had a nice little match when we were back at BU earlier this month. I used to play with [Brandon] Yip and [Kevin] Shattenkirk a lot in college. We would clear out the whole lounge and put the ping pong table right in the center and play after practice. I miss it.
KT: Do your teammates in Anaheim know about the YouTube video you did with Shattenkirk, MTV Cribs-style, of your dorm room?
NB: (laughs) I don't know if too many guys here know about it.
KT: Well, they're about to find out.
NB: There’s definitely a career in acting for us if we wanted it.
KT: Your first NHL goal came in your second game. Describe the play.
NB: If you looked at who was on the ice with me, I had an assist from [Teemu] Selanne and [Corey] Perry, and then [Scott] Niedermayer and [Lubomir] Visnovsky were with me. That's something I'll always remember. Selanne picked the puck out of the net for me, handed it to me on the bench and said, "I always remember my first goal. I'm happy for you." That right there just says what kind of guy Teemu is. He's always the first one to acknowledge you. It's a memory I'll always have.
KT: I hear congratulations are in order as you will marry your college sweetheart, Lauren Cherewyk, next summer.
NB: Thank you. We dated since freshman year at BU. She was on the women's hockey team. Every time I would get done with a game I'd go back and talk to her and she'd say something like "You should have shot that puck," or something along those lines. She would really give it to me and I would do the same for her. It's been really great to have her throughout my career.
KT: Who’s the better hockey player?
NB: I can't answer that. She's the better skater, that's for sure. I'll leave it at that.