Vol. LXV, No. 31
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
PRO PROSPECT: Princeton University mens hockey goalie Sean Bonar gets ready to guard the crease for the Tigers last winter. Last month, rising sophomore Bonar honed his skills by taking part in the Philadelphia Flyers annual Summer Prospect camp.
With two Stanley Cups and 16 appearances in the National Hockey League semifinals in just 44 years of existence, the Philadelphia Flyers have quickly built a rich tradition.
Last month, Princeton University rising sophomore goalie Sean Bonar got a taste of that tradition as he took part in Flyers annual Summer Prospect camp.
In addition to hitting the ice with the 40 other players at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, Bonar got to tour the teams facilities, where reminders of past glory are visible everywhere.
We got to walk through the Flyers dressing room, said Bonar. There are pictures hanging everywhere there and at their practice facility of all of their old players and coaches. Their tradition is definitely strong.
It marked the second straight year the 61 175-pound native of Delta, British Columbia was invited to an NHL prospect camp as he skated at the Kings camp last summer before arriving at Princeton.
For Bonar, the Flyers camp was more productive. It was a lot different than my previous experience at the L.A. prospects camp, noted Bonar. The Flyers had a really close focus on player development and teaching. It was an awesome camp and an awesome experience.
After experiencing his first prospect camp last summer, Bonar was relaxed when he stepped on the ice last month and was well prepared for the pressure of showing off his skills for an NHL franchise.
It was certainly a lot easier to step in and do well, said Bonar. I know what its about now. I certainly know how to succeed. You just have to make sure you are comfortable. I learned at the L.A. camp to just go out and do my thing.
Composure is a big reason why Bonar has a successful freshman season at Princeton. The red-headed Bonar emerged as the Tigers number one goalie over the final month of the season, finishing with a record of 8-6-1 and an impressive 2.20 goals against average and a .912 save percentage.
Former Tiger head coach Guy Gadowsky repeatedly praised Bonars mental toughness and the Princeton netminder believes his mental approach is a big part of his success.
Thats something Ive worked on for a long time, Bonar said. That part of the game comes easy to me now. It used to be one of the things I wasnt very good at. The poise that I have now and the calmness I play with is the result of a lot of hard work and mental training.
Bonar wont have Gadowsky behind the bench next season as the latter left Princeton to take the head coaching job at Penn State. However, Bonar is taking the same approach to the game despite the coaching change.
Losing coach Gadowsky is a big hit, said Bonar. Whenever you lose a coach like that, it obviously hurts. At the same time, hockey is still hockey and stopping the puck is still stopping the puck for me. My job description doesnt change.
Bonar was part of a Princeton squad that surprised many of the ECAC Hockey experts who were predicting a rebuilding season at Old Nassau last season. The Tigers finished sixth in the league and despite a frustrating first-round playoff defeat to St. Lawrence, Bonar believes the foundation has been set for success in the future.
In Bonars view, last years senior class played a key role in setting the tone throughout the season.
The leadership group we had at Princeton this past year was unbelievable, Bonar said. Our senior class had some of the best guys that Ive ever been around. I think that has a lot to do with the culture.
There is an added advantage for a Princeton hockey prospect on the Flyers radar as the Tigers have proven to be a valuable scouting spot for the Philadelphia front office. Former Princeton standout Darroll Powe enjoyed a solid three-year run with Philadelphia before getting traded to the Minnesota Wild earlier this summer.
With Princeton being the closest Division I hockey school to Philadelphia, Bonar knows the Flyers will be able to keep a close eye on him for the next three years.
Theyll be watching, said Bonar. Philadelphia is only an hour down the road from Princeton. Ill be exposed to them all the time; Ill never be far off their radar.
While Bonar is hoping to one day wear an orange and black Flyers jersey, he is looking forward to putting on his orange and black Princeton sweater this winter.
I cannot wait to g
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