TILBURG, Holland – Former Northern Michigan University hockey player Dave Bonk was recently honored as the top scorer in the Holland Independent League for the 2006-07 season. He played 40 games for the Tilburg Trappers; Bonk tallied 33 goals, 46 assists for 79 points. A young guy like Bonk has the best of many different worlds. He still gets to play hockey and make of living.
Bonk’s offensive talent was hidden during his playing days with the Wildcats. He had more of a checking role and was playing behind some good players who would score such as Darin Olver and Dirk Southern. Bonk also had two shoulder surgeries, so his role was limited. He considers his pro career as a rebirth, a year-by-year progression of finding his lost offensive touch.
“It is obviously nice to win any award, especially one for the whole league. I think better than winning the award, was the fact our team won the league championship,” said Bonk. “I had not won something anywhere close to that since I was 14 years old and we won a Provincial Championship in Manitoba so it had been a long time.” The award for Bonk showed that he contributed to the team’s success. He does not take all the credit as many of his teammates also had a part. His line mate Doug Stienstra was only two points back in the points column.
Bonk played at NMU from 2000-04 where he lettered twice, appeared in 74 games, scored nine goals, 16 assists for 25 points. After his NMU days, Bonk played for the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League (UHL) for the 2004-05 season. With the Mechanics he appeared in 66 games (15-26-41). The next two seasons he played in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). His first stop was with the Bakersfield Condors for the 2005-06 season. With the Condors he appeared in 36 games and registered 19 goals, 17 assists for 36 points. For the 2005-06 season Bonk skated for the Columbia Inferno. In 24 games with the Inferno he recorded five goals, 13 assists for 18 points.
Being able to play in Europe has many advantages besides just the time on the ice. Bonk and his wife, Lane, have been on the go traveling around Europe experiencing history, new foods and new places. “After the season last year we took a week vacation in Spain. It’s very nice how you can jump on a really cheap flight or train, and be to all these different, amazing old cities in just a couple of hours,” said Bonk. “Every town has so much history compared to how relatively young the United States or Canada is.”
Bonk is currently playing for Bundesliga in Germany. The league is one step below the Deutschland Elite Liga (DEL). But being an import is not all that easy. Each team is allowed five non-Germans. “There is a lot of pressure to perform on the imports, and if you don’t have thick skin, it can be pretty rough when you are losing,” said Bonk.
Bonk and his wife misses the little things. “Of course we miss many things of home, like English television, but especially our family and friends,” said Bonk. “It is always nice to come home after a long season to catch up and recharge before the next adventure.”
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Sports Information Director