Iona Prep has a settled on a new coach. Again. Mike Bonelli will be heading up the Gaels, and he’s coming in with a long hockey resume.
The 41-year-old North Salem native won state championships at Immaculate High School in Danbury as both a player and coach. He spent a total of seven years coaching at the school before he was a victim of budget cutbacks, and left with a record of 75-66. The school won the Division I championship in 2007.
“It’s a nice job,” Bonelli said. “The kids are great and the school really supports the hockey program. I love the fact that we’re in a Catholic school league and Tim Turnbull did a great job keeping the program where it was competitive every single year. The expectations are high, which is something I like.”
Turnbull left after last season citing the growing time commitment, and was eventually replaced by Tim Collins, who had to step down due to a job-related conflict.
Bonelli spent three seasons as head coach at Plymouth State University, compiling a 22-44-3 record between 1998-2001. He also previously served as the director of hockey at Westchester Skating Academy and Danbury Ice Arena. Bonelli spent two seasons as the director of hockey at The Harvey School, as well.
“He’s excited. I’m excited. The kids are pumped,” athletic director Bernard Mahoney said this afternoon. “Mike’s background, enthusiasm and experience certainly put him at the head of the list. I’m very confident he’s the right choice.”
Bonelli was officially approved by the powers that be at Iona Prep today, and has met with the kids. The first day of practice is Oct. 25, but the players are taking part in an off-ice training program right now.
“We want to be a role-model program,” Bonelli said.
As for the kids that play club and high school hockey, that’s something he’s not had to deal with in the past.
“In Connnecticut, you play for your (high school) program and that’s it,” he said. “I think I’m going to have to change my philosophy a bit on that one. We want to instill that you play for the school, play for the colors and the other stuff is a bonus. There is a precedent, though, so I have to see what the kids have committed to and go from there.”