DANBURY—The Division I Ice Hockey Team of Immaculate High School, in its final year as a co-op with New Fairfield High School, turned to the past to move into the future. Mike Bonelli, a USA Hockey Level 5 coach with high school and college coaching experience, and who has coached the IHS ice hockey team before, returns to write the next chapter of the program’s history.
An 1988 graduate of Immaculate High School, Bonelli also previously served as head coach of the IHS team, leading them to win both the DII State and SWC Championships in 2007 as well as the SWC DI Championships in 2001, 2003 and 2007. When the former coach resigned this year, a selection committee comprised of IHS parents, administration and consultants began their search for a new coach. They looked at the team’s own history to find a worthy replacement. Bonelli played for the Mustangs from 1985-1988 and returned to coach the team from 2001-2009.
Owner of Hockey Solutions, a coaching education associate for CIC and a business development manager for Ice Hockey organizations, Bonelli has over 30 years of experience as a coach, player, administrator and program coordinator. “We are happy to welcome Mike Bonelli back to Immaculate as our ice hockey head coach; Coach Bonelli is committed to ensure that the team is well-trained, prepared, has a comprehensive plan for a JV program and will provide exceptional professional staffing for this transition season and beyond,” said Mary Maloney, President of Immaculate High School. “His talents include game expertise, program development, retention and assisting players with leadership through a proven educational coaching philosophy that aligns with our school mission.”
The team is in its final season as a cooperative with New Fairfield High School as it was instructed by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) to break up the co-op this upcoming season or be declared ineligible for the State tournament. However, the student-athletes from Immaculate did not want to leave the New Fairfield skaters out in the cold so suddenly even though it meant missing a chance to compete at the State championships and voted to remain a co-op one more year.
“I am very excited to come back at this particular time, and look forward to working with such a dedicated group of student-athletes who want to play the best ice hockey they can and with an administration and parents that are so supportive of the program,” said Coach Bonelli.
Bonelli has several immediate goals as head coach; his first priority is maintaining the focus on the NFI team this year, and then stabilize the transition from co-op to an independent team. For the 2020-21 season, he would like to expand the Immaculate ice hockey program level of play, grow student-athlete abilities and win the State Championship.
“It’s great to come back to the school where I loved playing and coaching, and try to help the players achieve their dreams of winning major championships and of playing ice hockey after high school,” said Coach Bonelli. “Immaculate High School is very committed to the ice hockey program, and combined with the strong academic program it offers, really gives these student-athletes the chance to play post-high school.”
The upcoming season’s schedule, which features more in-state DI opponents as well as tests against high-level out-of-state competition, will present challenges to any coach, so it is great timing that a coach of Bonelli’s level and experience is willing to get on the ice with the student-athletes so committed to their sport.
Immaculate High School is a private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York. Founded in 1962, Immaculate High School allows students to focus on academic excellence, spiritual development, personal commitments and service to others. Located in Danbury, CT, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system.