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September 05, 2016

Lonny Bohonos

Unlike most of his friends and brothers, Lonny Bohonos never grew up dreaming of playing in the National Hockey League.

Yet he is the only would who did make it.

"Growing up in Canada with two older brothers who played the game, I probably didn't have any choice about playing hockey," he said. "I was probably three or four when I first held a hockey stick. If you have older brothers you kind of look up to them and whatever they do, you do. I think that's how basically I got started."

I used to always play goal and they used to always shoot the puck at me. I didn't mind it, we had those street pads I used to strap on and away I would go."

Young Lonny stopped pucks and street hockey balls for many frigid hours in the Winnipeg neighborhood of Fort Garry.

"I used to go to the outdoor rinks a lot, as long as it wasn't too cold out there. There would be times that Dad would have to come along and pull me off the ice because my feet were getting too cold."

But young Lonny loved every minute of it. He loved to play hockey with his friend and his brothers but he never really dreamed about playing in the NHL. But as he grew older it became apparent Lonny was a special talent. His wizard-like hands could trick the best of opponents time after time. He was on his way to the big leagues.

"I just played for the fun of it, I never really worried about what I was going to do later in life. I figured if I could get something out of hockey, like schooling, that would be fine. "

Bohonos was off to junior, briefly playing in Moose Jaw before excelling in Seattle and Portland. In his final year he led the entire WHL in scoring with 62 goals and 90 assists.

"It wasn't until my last year of junior in Portland when I had a real good year and the coaching staff talked to me and told me to get an agent because there were some teams interested in signing me. That was the first time that I began to think about the NHL. I was just going out there have some fun and be around the guys, it never really crossed my mind."

Bohonos ended up signing with the Vancouver Canucks.

"It just seemed like the team that would be the best fit. We looked at the roster, I was a centre then, and it seemed like the team that I could make the quickest," admitted Bohonos.

After a year and a half of apprenticing in the American Hockey League, Bohonos got his chance with a three game call up in 1995-96. He then spent two half seasons with the Canucks in 1996-97 and 1997-98 where he teased fans with his quickness and deft stickhandling.

"(The NHL) was a lot quicker, everything happened a lot faster. The puck would be on your stick and it seemed like you only had half a second to make a decision to pass, shoot or skate with it. Plus just the overall size of the guys, they are a lot bigger and stronger," he said of the jump.

"I noticed it was a lot harder for me to create any offence the first couple of games. For whatever reason it just wasn't happening and obviously, when I did get a chance, the goalies are the best in the world and that made it even harder to score."

Bohonos was never noted as much of a defensive player, but he quickly realized what he had to do to stick around in the NHL.

"You just have to play good defensively. The position I was in, if anything happened offensively that was great. I just had to go out there and show them I could play defense and if I got a chance, put it in the net.

In 36 games in 1996-97 Bohonos found a home with Canucks stalwarts Trevor Linden and Martin Gelinas. He scored a nice 11 goals and 22 points.

But he struggled terribly in year two, scoring just 3 points while playing a 4th line role in 31 games. Towards the end of the season he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for another struggling former junior star named Brandon Convery.

In two seasons with the Leafs he played mostly with their farm team in the AHL. Yet in his couple of brief call-ups he produced. In 1999 he finished the season with the Leafs and scored 3 goals in 7 games. He then added 3 goals and 9 points in 9 Stanley Cup playoff games.

Lonny Bohonos was never heard from again, at least in the National Hockey League. At least it was a strong exit.

Bohonos ended up playing one more minor league season before heading to Europe to play mostly in Switzerland. He did return to the minor leagues after several seasons in Europe.

Bohonos returned to Germany in 2005-06 but his career came to an end as the result of a nasty neck injury after being hit by former NHLer Denis Pederson.

Bohonos settled in Thunder Bay, Ontario where he worked as a survey technician for the city.

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