BLOOMINGTON — During his seven seasons of professional hockey in Bloomington, Jon Booras played in 466 games. But only three of those came in the playoffs.
Now six years after he and the PrairieThunder were swept out of their lone postseason appearance, Booras is a two-time playoff MVP — in Hungary.
“A lot of coaches and the Hungarian Federation vote on it, so it’s a pretty cool, neat accomplishment and I’m privileged to get it, especially winning it two years in a row,” said the 34-year-old Booras, who still resides in Bloomington in the offseason.
A year ago, Booras made his European pro debut playing for DVTK in Miskolc. After registering 35 goals and 33 assists in 42 regular-season games, he followed with seven tallies and 12 assists in the postseason in leading the Polar Bears to their second straight championship in the 11-team MOL Liga.
“It was awesome because throughout my whole career I hadn’t been on a lot of good teams, unfortunately. I always wanted to win a championship at a pro level,” he said.
Since each team is limited to six foreign “imports,” Booras moved on from DVTK to MAC Budapest this season and got back to the finals, but lost to his former club despite delivering seven goals and 10 assists in the playoffs and repeating as the MVP.
“Being on the losing end, I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said of the second award. “It was a shock and a surprise, but it was kind of bittersweet because I was hoping as a team we were going to win it again.”
Booras’ knack for piling up points comes as no surprise. During his years in Bloomington he amassed 187 goals and 467 total points, including a 100-point season with the PrairieThunder in 2008-09.
“Playing here was absolutely great. Just some of my fondest memories were kind of almost growing up here all over again,” said Booras, who was 23 when he made his PrairieThunder debut in 2006.
“It’s kind of been my second home. All the people I’ve met here, even playing overseas they’ve followed me. All the friends and family I’ve incorporated, it’s just been amazing.”
Booras, his wife Kara and 15-month-old daughter Pearl (who was born in Miskolc) “were around everything” while living in downtown Budapest.
“It’s a little more relaxed lifestyle. Everything’s a lot cheaper,” he said. “The food is really, really good; I kind of miss that. They’re known for their wine too, so the wine is pretty good over there.
“It was an amazing experience with the people that you meet there. I’m happy that I went through it.”
The thought of someday playing overseas was always in Booras’ mind and he relished the opportunity even though it arrived in the twilight of his career.
“This year I got to live in one of the best cities in the world, I think,” he said. “Budapest is an unbelievable city, a huge travel destination. There’s so many things to do; I’ve just been fortunate.”
Teams in the MOL Liga play on the larger, Olympic-sized rinks so there’s more open space on the ice. He also said travel doesn’t take as much of a toll, with many of the opponents less than an hour apart.
“It’s pretty similar in the level of play that I played over here for so long,” he said. “But just the aspect of the game being on the bigger sheet of ice with a lot more skating, the game is a little different.”
So will Booras go back for a third season in Hungary?
“Right now, it’s kind of a question mark to be honest,” he said, noting he and Kara are expecting their second daughter this month. “I’m talking to a few teams over there but it’s basically going to be down to my family.
“We’ll kind of regroup and discuss things and kind figure out if it's feasible for us to make the move over there. There’s a lot that gets involved, especially traveling with two little ones.”