TOKYO, Japan – Two Asia League Ice Hockey clubs have signed players from Central Hockey League teams. Veteran defenseman Ray DiLauro, who played with the Missouri Mavericks last season, has signed with the Nippon Paper Cranes and Dave Bonk, who played for the Allen Americans, has signed with the Nikko Ice Bucks.
DiLauro, 31, is a ninth round draft pick (246th overall) of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound native of Bensalem, Pennsylvania has accumulated 241 points (62 G, 179 A) and 563 penalty minutes in 10 pro seasons. Last season, DiLauro tallied 39 points (10 G, 29 A) in 65 regular season games and added nine points (3 G, 6 A) in nine post-season contests.
He spent the previous four seasons in three of Europe’s top leagues, and most recently played for the Cleveland Barons of the AHL in North America. DiLauro had his best season in 2004-05 with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers where he posted 52 points (12 G, 40 A) in 72 games played.
At the end of last season, the Paper Cranes finished second (74 points) in the Asia League standings, just behind the Oji Eagles (76 points). In the playoffs, the Paper Cranes faced the Tohoku Free Blades, who won a deciding fifth game and advanced to the final for the first time after just their second season in the league.
They won the inaugural Asia League Ice Hockey championship in 2004 and again in 2007 and 2009. They’ve also won the annual All-Japan Ice Hockey Championship four times (2006, 2007, 2010, and 2011). The Paper Cranes have declared “Revolution!” – their slogan for the upcoming season. They have set the goal of regaining the throne as Asia League champions.
Bonk, 29, is entering his seventh pro season after a busy 2010-11 campaign. In 47 regular season games with the Allen Americans, Bonk registered 58 points (20 G, 38 A), followed by 16 points (6 G, 10 A) in 13 post-season contests. Bonk was also called up to the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons for six games and the Texas Stars for 11 games. He tallied a combined four points (2 G, 2 A) during his time in the AHL.
The Ice Bucks finished sixth (40 points) in the Asia League standings last season and has never won a championship, but the team has committed itself to “Hard Work, Everyday.” – their slogan for the upcoming campaign. Although the team has consistently placed near or at the bottom of the league each year, they are hoping to show improvement this season.
The Asia League was created primarily for the development of hockey in Asia. The league allows teams to hire a small number of foreign-born or “import” players to play on each team in order to even out strength as well as increase the level of competitiveness in the league. The idea being that playing against more skilled foreign players will allow players from the participating countries to increase their skills and benefit from having some more experienced players on their teams.
DiLauro and Bonk will join Brock Radunske, Ric Jackman (Anyang Halla), Bryan Young, Oren Eizenman, Darcy Mitani, Michael Swift (High1), Tyler Mosienko, Chris Yule (Nippon Paper Cranes), Chris Harrington and Marc Cavosie (Oji Eagles) as import players in the league.
The 2011-12 Asia League Ice Hockey regular season will run from Saturday, September 17th to Sunday, February 26, 2012. The seven participating teams will play a combined 126 games, after which, four teams atop the final regular season standings will advance to the playoffs and will vie for the title of Asia League Champion. Both the semi-final (Set for March 3-11th) and final (set for March 17-25th) will feature a best-of-five series format.
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