08/21/2018 9:14 AM
DULUTH, Ga. – The Atlanta Gladiators announced Tuesday that goaltender Sean Bonar has re-signed with the team for the 2018-19 season.
“My goal all summer was to find a way to re-sign with Atlanta no matter what that took,” said Bonar. “With the guys we have coming back, the way I was treated last year by everyone and how unbelievably the fans embraced me like I’ve never felt before, I can’t see myself being anywhere else in this league except Atlanta.”
“Bones had a great stint last season, and I witnessed him first-hand dominate the SPHL the year before that,” said Head Coach and General Manager of Hockey Operations Jeff Pyle. “He battles for every puck, has an immense work ethic, is a great teammate, is a leader in the locker room and has amazing athleticism. With his skill set and work ethic, teams have to really work to score against him.”
“When you have a guy like Bones around, his work ethic is contagious,” said Team Captain Derek Nesbitt. “He always makes the team better, including in practice where he never gives up on any play and forces guys to have to really battle to score. He is aggressive yet composed in scramble situations around the net, which makes him so effective at this level, where there are more defensive break downs than you see in the AHL and NHL. He is always there to make up for any mistakes.”
Bonar, 27, returns to Atlanta after leading the team in goals-against-average (2.69), save percentage (.920) and shutouts (3) last season. In 29 games played with the Gladiators in 2017-18, the Delta, BC resident earned a record of 13-10-1 and stopped 38 of 41 shots in an overtime loss to Florida in his one playoff appearance. His three shutouts tied him for fifth-most among all goalies in the ECHL. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound goalie backstopped the Fayetteville FireAntz of the SPHL during the 2016-17 campaign with a record of 32-15-2, a 2.07 goals-against average and .927 save percentage while being named the SPHL’s Most Valuable Player. During the fifth-year pro’s record-breaking season in Fayetteville, he set all-time SPHL highs for wins in a season (32) and minutes played (2,956). Bonar will attend training camp this season with the Glads’ AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins.
“Boston has rewarded Sean with a spot in the P-Bruins training camp and a chance to earn an AHL contract,” said Pyle. “That says a lot about a guy when he gathers interest from teams at the higher levels after having his start in the SPHL. It’s also great to see Boston give this kid an opportunity that is so very much deserved.”
“It nice to see hard work pay off and get rewarded like this,” said Nesbitt. “This opportunity to show what he has at the next level was not just handed to him. He went out and earned it, and it’s amazing to see.”
“It would mean a lot for me to earn a contract in the AHL but that’s not my main focus right now,” said Bonar. “I’m confident that I’ll play with the same intensity and desire no matter where I am at. For me, right now I’m focused on being the most ready I possibly can be no matter where I touch the ice first this season.”
The former netminder at Princeton University had 22 career appearances in the ECHL for Indy, Orlando, Brampton, Fort Wayne and Wichita over the course of the three seasons before last year. Bonar touts dominating numbers at the SPHL level with a career record of 47-19-2, 1.99 GAA and a .932 save percentage for Fayetteville and Pensacola.
“The guys love him and that goes a long way for a goalie,” added Pyle. “Players want to work hard and do everything they can in front of him because of how hard he works and how good of a teammate he is. I want guys like that, who want to be here for the right reasons. That’s why I did everything I could to get Bones back in Atlanta.”
“I think we can make a championship run, no doubt about it,” said Bonar. “For stretches last year when we were healthy and came together as a group, we were almost unbeatable. With all the guys we have coming back, if we all buy in from the start and grow as a team constantly, I see a possible Kelly Cup in our future.”
The 16th season of Atlanta Gladiators hockey begins at the Infinite Energy Arena on Friday, October 19th against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at 7:35 PM. For ticket information, visit the official team website at www.atlantagladiators.com or call the main office line at 770-497-5100.
The Gladiators are members of the ECHL, the nation’s premier "AA" hockey league. All home games are played at the 10,867-seat Infinite Energy Arena, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth – where parking is always free. The Gladiators have established an unrivaled commitment to excellence, maintaining a distinctive reputation for affordable and family-friendly sports entertainment and consistently ranked as one of the top “Things To Do” in the Atlanta area and across the North Georgia region.
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