Michelle Bonello’s comeback one of the great stories of 2013-14 CWHL campaign

As a member of the Toronto Furies during their inaugural season, Michelle Bonello was a key member of their blue line corps. Advancing to the championship game of the 2011 Clarkson Cup, it would be another three years before Bonello had the opportunity to compete for the title again.

Unlike 2011, the 2014 effort culminated in a championship victory for Bonello and her teammates, giving the city of Toronto its first major hockey championship since the 1975 Memorial Cup. Perhaps even more special was that Bonello enjoyed a heroic comeback with the blue and white.

Of note, Bonello was not part of the blue and white during the 2012-13 campaign. This was compounded by a very difficult 2011-12 campaign that saw the Furies finish with a losing record, while Bonello only recorded three points.

Despite not gracing CWHL ice for one season, Bonello managed to stay active. A former College Hockey America All-Star with the Mercyhurst Lakers (where she played alongside the likes of Meghan Agosta), Bonello emerged as a key member of the Canadian Inline women’s hockey team.

For the 2012 edition of the World Inline Hockey Championships, Bonello was named an alternate captain in a gold medal effort. Of note, several of her teammates had also competed in the CWHL. Such CWHL luminaries included the likes of LaToya Clarke, Amanda Parkins and former Furies teammate Kendra Fisher.

One year later, another CWHL alumnus, Samantha Shirley would join the Canadian squad. Unlike 2012, Bonello and her Canadian teammates would finish with the silver medal at the 2013 Worlds. The chance to compete with Shirley was made special by the fact that the two are teammates in the Mississauga Roller Hockey Association. CWHL players such as Joanne Eustace, Laura Hosier and Meagan Aarts (who also plays with Bonello on the Furies) were also part of the MRHA.

Such experience at the international level would prove to be beneficial for Bonello. With the Furies facing the loss of several key players due to Canadian centralization for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, there was a significant gap. Bonello’s return to the Furies fulfilled a need for more leadership. As the blueline corps already featured the likes of Martine Garland, Lexie Hoffmeyer, Shannon Moulson and Britni Smith, Bonello’s acumen and experience were the perfect fit.

Fortunately for the Furies, Bonello also re-emerged with a sparkling offensive attack. Finishing the season as the fifth leading scorer for the Furies, Bonello would manage to lead all defenders in scoring. Complementing such strong numbers was the fact that Bonello registered six power play assists, leading all defenders on the Furies.

In games where Bonello contributed at least one point, the Furies enjoyed a 7-3-0 mark. Statistically, her best performances this season were two-point efforts on December 1 (a 7-1 road win over Calgary) and February 1 (a 5-2 triumph against Boston). Although she did not earn any points in the Clarkson Cup postseason, her experience was crucial for a team stocked with rookies and fresh faces.

Ironically, she would follow up her Clarkson Cup triumph with another overtime hockey championship. Playing for the Royals in the MRHA’s Gold Division, she was part of the squad’s overtime victory, not only bringing a dramatic finish to the 2013-14 season, but another accolade in her distinguished inline career.