Flyers rookie Bonk not just a chip off the old block

Oliver Bonk

       The story might be antiquated but it never really gets old.

       It’s the one about a famous NHL hockey player watching his son try to fill his skates.

       Some make it, some don’t.

       In the case of Flyers freshman defenseman Oliver Bonk, he’s attempting to take up where his dad, Radek, left off.

        On Friday night, Oliver made his debut in a game between the Flyers and New York Rangers’ rookies at the PPL Center in Allentown.

       There are two things young players such as Oliver have to consider: He wants to emulate his father’s work ethic and enjoy the success that comes from that. But he also wants to “cut his own trail.”

        Perhaps he can do both.

        While he won’t turn 19 until January, he shows maturity beyond his age.

       “I always had my dad to lean on,” Oliver said after the game, which was won by the Rangers, 4-2. “He’s been supporting me but he knows I have to cut my own path. He doesn’t force stuff on me. He’s there for me to lean on. But it’s my journey.”

        Ultimately, striving to be his own man is probably the rest route to take anyway.

        “Yeah, the path I take is not going to be the same as my dad’s,” he said, mindful of the fact that Radek was a flashy, high-scoring forward. “He’s a great person to have around, obviously. But it’s kind of good to do things on my own.”

        Lehigh Valley coach Ian Laperriere ran the bench for Friday night’s game and was impressed with Bonk’s play.

        The youngster stayed calm under pressure and that might have something to do with his upbringing and hanging around his father

            “What kids like that have is they’re not impressed with being around NHL people,” Laperriere said. “They’ve been around NHL people all their lives. Bonk’s dad had that smile on his face all the time, he loved the game. Both of them. I was impressed with both of them. They played hard. My kids are impressed that I was an NHL player so I’m sure it’s the same for them.”

       For some NHL teams, a rookie preseason game in mid-September might not seem like a very big deal.

      But having missed the playoffs three straight seasons and admitting they’re in a complete rebuild mode, the Flyers will readily admit Friday night’s freshman skirmish against the New York Rangers kids in Allentown might have had a little extra meaning.

      After all, there are at least a few jobs open on the big roster and a handful of freshmen could challenge for those spots, including forward Tyson Foerster, defenseman Emil Andrae and forward Elliott Desnoyers among others.

      New York’s Brett Berard scored midway through the third period for the go-ahead goal to help give the Rangers the victory.

      The Flyers’ Matt Brown did nothing to hurt his cause in this game. He connected on a power play from close range at 18:59 of the first period.

      But the Rangers bounced back with a power-play goal of their own just 41 seconds into the second period with Karl Henriksson doing the honors.

      New York then took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Dylan Roobroeck as the clock approached five minutes remaining in the middle frame. However, the Flyers kept the pressure on and were rewarded for their work when Alex Ciernik connected with just 30 seconds left in the period.

      Meanwhile, Flyers goaltending prospect Nolan Maier looked pretty sharp in his first action of the preseason.

      The two teams meet again on Saturday afternoon, 5 p.m., at PPL Center.

            >Short shots: The Flyers’ new front office was out in full force, including president of hockey operations Keith Jones, general manager Danny Briere and assistant GM Brent Flahr. Also in attendance was special advisor to the GM, Patrick Sharp. . .In the Fearless Department, Flyers right wing Zayde Wisdom took on a much bigger Matt Rempe of the Rangers. Wisdom held his own for a few moments, then was knocked down by a quick right hand.

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About Wayne Fish 2409 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.