He was a top defenseman in the Great North Midget Hockey League, the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and the Ontario Jr. Hockey League who went on to become a team captain at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level. Now 28 years old, Sault Ste. Marie product Bronson Kovacs continues to play the game with professional passion overseas in Hungary.
Skating for Hungary-based Debreceni Egyetem Atletikai Club (DEAC) of the 11-team Erste Liga, Kovacs recently earned player of the week honours by scoring four goals and adding an assist in three games from his defensive post.
Success at the pro hockey level has been ongoing for the likeable, personable, well-mannered Kovacs, who is now in his fourth season playing in Hungary. A year ago, while playing for MAC Budapest, Kovacs was a member of the Hungarian national team that played host to the Four Nations Cup Hockey Tournament.
To be sure, the son of Zoltan (Toots) Kovacs and Diana Tonucci Kovacs of Sault Ste. Marie, is enjoying the experience of playing pro hockey and living in Hungary, which is the homeland of his late paternal grandfather, Zoltan Kovacs Sr.
“I hope to play a couple more years (in Hungary),” Kovacs told Hockey News North. “We shall see.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Kovacs played all of his minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, advancing to the major midget Soo North Stars and the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL.
Then, after one season in the OJHL with the Huntsville Otters, Kovacs spent four full years with the New York-based Hobart College Statesmen of the Division 3, NCAA, Eastern College Athletic Conference.
During his career at Hobart, Kovacs served as team captain in his senior season and helped lead the Statesmen to their fifth NCAA tournament appearance in program history back in 2014-2015.
In all, Kovacs played in 98 career games at Hobart and scored 19 goals, 26 assists, 45 points.
He also has a university degree to fall back on when his hockey career is over.
In the classroom, Kovacs graduated from Hobart with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology and was a three-time member of the ECAC all-academic team.
His father, the aforementioned Toots Kovacs, is no stranger to hockey in Sault Ste. Marie as a former Ontario Hockey League player and coach with the Soo Greyhounds who currently serves as an associate coach with the aforementioned Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL.
As for playing in Hungary for DEAC, which is among the challengers for first place in Erste Liga, the younger Kovacs said there are multiple reasons for the early-season success of the team.
“(Coach) David Musial has a game plan that we have been sticking to it … we have a simple game plan and we have a good goalie who gives us a good chance to win the games. We have been scoring lately and playing good defence as well. Things have been coming together for us,” Kovacs relayed.
Kovacs sees DEAC continuing on its path of success.
“We have a young and inexperienced team but we have some veteran leaders such as Zoltán Hetényi and Ákos Berta and I have also been around the league myself for a couple of years as well. We have a pretty good leadership, however we have a young team. We still have a learning curve to get over. If we stick to the game plan and we stick together we will continue being successful,” Kovacs pointed out.
Kovacs explained the reasoning behind his decision to change teams during the off season.
“It was a good opportunity to have, MAC was going in a different direction, once I knew that I was not going to be re-signing with MAC, DEAC was one of the first teams that got in contact with me. It looked like they have good management and the co-operation with the University of Debrecen. I liked what they had going on towards the future so I signed with them,” he relayed.
There is parity among the teams in Erste Liga, according to Kovacs.
“The way the season is unfolding there are some pretty good teams and pretty good players playing. You have to come to play because on any given day, the last place team has a chance to beat the first place team and you need to be ready to battle,” he noted.
Players come from all over to play in Erste Liga and there are a lot of good players in the league, said Kovacs.
“Everyone one can skate and shoot and if you are coming from the D3 college level, for example, usually you are a good player. You need to come here and try to make a name for yourself, you want to set an example and you need to give the proper respect to the players and the league. If you come here, put your head down and work hard and get the job done you will find success regardless of where ever you have come from,” Kovacs concluded.