As a scoring star at White Bear Lake high school in Minnesota, Brian Bonin had aspirations of one day making it to the NHL. The fact he was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 buoyed his spirits even further. However, he realized that as a ninth-round pick, chosen 211th overall, he would be considered a long-shot at best. Rather than toil in the minors hoping to improve, Bonin opted for the educational route, enrolling at the University of Minnesota, which has produced many excellent players over the years, some who have gone to have very productive NHL careers.
Bonin played four years at the University of Minnesota and improved his offensive statistics each year and earned a plethora of awards including being named to the WCHA and NCAA First All-Star Team in 1995 and 1996; the WCHA Player of the Year in 1996; and most notably was the 1996 Hobey Baker recipient as the top player in NCAA hockey. He also represented the United States at the 1996 World Championships.
Despite the tremendous achievements in his NCAA career, he was only able to crack the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup for five games in 1998-99. He has been a career minor-leaguer but thought he may have a second chance at earning a full-time NHL roster spot when he signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2000. However, he lasted just seven games with the team before being released. He is now out of professional hockey having not received offers from any of the other NHL teams.