Yet another prospect interview from Don Fulton, this one with Zach Bogosian, a defenseman for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, one of the great team names in all of hockey. Bogosian’s season is over and Don caught up with him. Next, Don will get to work tracking down D.B. Cooper, Natalee Holloway and the guy who tipped off Jacques Demers about Marty McSorley’s curved stick.
Type the name “Zach Bogosian” into the search window at youtube.com and you will stumble upon some nice highlights of the 17-year-old defenseman from Massena, NY. There he is going on an end-to-end rush culminating in a nice wrap-around goal. Oh, and there he is coming to the aid of a fallen teammate, dropping the gloves against a much bigger opponent…..
Bogosian, the 6-2, 200-lb blue-liner for the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes is a tough, mobile defenseman who has been compared to Chris Pronger and Larry Murphy to name a few.
Tutored by none other than all time great Ray Bourque while attending prep school, Bogosian’s OHL season is complete following a disappointing regular season that saw the Petes finish as the 8th seed in the Eastern conference and ultimately losing its first round series in five games to the high-powered Belleville Bulls.
For his part, Bogosian had a fine regular season with 11 goals and 50 assists. But his game is more than compiling points, as his competitive fire and willingness to stick up for teammates has him high on the charts of most ratings heading into June’s entry draft.
Bogosian chatted with us about what went wrong for the Petes this season, how his game compares to other highly-touted prospects, why it’s important to stick up for teammates, hanging out with Bourque and why he ultimately lists Chris Chelios as his favorite player.
Q&A: Zach Bogosian
Question: Can you tell us a little about lessons learned from a mostly disappointing regular season and early exit from the post season?
Bogosian: Obviously it wasn’t the year we wanted and we could have moved up in the standings and had a higher seed heading into the playoffs, we just didn’t capitalize. All together, I thought the last two weeks of the season were good for the team and it was a good experience for the young guys going into the playoffs and getting the experience. We played a couple of good games and hung in there with Belleville, but they were just a more mature and older team and they took the series. Hopefully all the guys learned from the experience and we can take that into next year.
Question: Did you guys play a little more free and easy knowing that the Bulls were simply expected to take the series?
Bogosian: Exactly. Everyone was saying they were going to sweep us, but I think we just went into every game and every shift knowing that we just had to work hard and that we had nothing to lose and they had everything.
Question: Let’s talk about your game a little bit. How does your style differ from Doughty and Schenn?
Bogosian: You look at Schenn and he is just a great shut-down defenseman and you look at Doughty and he’s a great offensive-defenseman. I just try and make myself the best all-around defenseman as I can be, playing the best defense in my own zone and chipping in on offense here and there. It was kind of a good year for me offensively; the last couple of years I really haven’t had a whole lot of points, but it was a good year for me putting up the points that I did and playing solid defensively.
Question: Do you feel confident in your mobility and your puck-handling abilities?
Bogosian: I’ve always been a strong skater even when I was a little kid. It is something that I’ve really put in to my game, and I like to skate with the puck and get open. Mobility and skating with the puck in a fluid motion is just all in rhythm and it feels good. It was a good year for me because I was just that much more confident with the puck. I went into this year really knowing what to expect.
Question: What part of your game do you feel the best about and what part needs the most work?
Bogosian: Well obviously you can always work on any part, but I really just try and concentrate on my line before I try and chip-in offensively. Probably the strongest part of my game is my competitiveness and just going out there every shift and not wanting to lose any one-on-one battles. But you can work on almost anything, skating, shooting, puck-handling, it’s one of those games where you can improve so much in one year.
Question: Tell me about the tutelage you received from Ray Bourque.
Bogosian: He was my volunteer coach the last year I was at prep school. It was awesome. You usually don’t get the chance to learn from a guy with that kind of experience every day, so you really listen to everything he has to say. I got to know him pretty well and I got to go over to his house a few times – it was a nice house – and he’s just a great all-around guy. If anyone really wanted to model themselves after someone, that’s a guy I’ve seen at charity events, and I’ve seen him laying on his couch at home and he’s just a great guy. You couldn’t really ask for more from a guy who has accomplished so much.
Question: So did you get to check out his trophy room?
Bogosian: Yeah, actually his whole basement is all of his trophies, it’s like a huge walk-through museum pretty much (laughs).
Question: On the flip-side, I see that you list Chris Chelios as your favorite player. Do you model any of your playing style after his?
Bogosian: When he was younger he was just a great all-around defenseman. The thing I like about him the most and the thing that stands out the most about him is his competitiveness and he’s just a warrior out there on the ice. I try to do that too. Every night you may not be as good as other nights, but going out there and competing well is all you really have to do.
Question: Talk about your January 6th battle with Oshawa’s big (6-5, 237-lb) James DeLory.
Bogosian: I think we were down 3-0 and on our part we just really weren’t getting anything done. I was on the ice and looked up and one of our better centermen go clipped by DeLory – DeLory got a big center ice hit on him – and I figured there was about six minutes left in the second period and I figured this was a chance to get the boys going and stick up for my teammate. I didn’t know how I’d do, but I went up to him and things happened and we dropped the gloves. It was a good thing for me. Standing in there with a tough guy like that gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season knowing that people were aware that I wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves. It was a good night for me.
Question: And considering the guy has three inches and about 35 pounds on you it certainly looked like you held your own.
Bogosian: Yeah, I grabbed a hold of him and he is definitely a strong boy, but I think we both exchanged some pretty good hits.
Question: Odd question, but did you ever speak to him after the fight?
Bogosian: I didn’t, but after the fight he kind of leaned in and said, “Good job, I knew you had to step up,” and he kind of tapped me a little bit.
Question: That’s got to drive your parents a little crazy when you step in against someone that big?
Bogosian: My mom, yeah, but I think my dad likes it (laughs). I think all the mothers have their protective instincts when their sons are playing, but my mom knows that my style is kind of rough and tough, so she understands it.
Question: Growing up and living in Massena, NY you’ve certainly had a wide range of teams to root for growing up.
Bogosian: Being right across the river from Cornwall, which is between Ottawa and Montreal, I grew up watching the Senators. I didn’t get to too many games, but I definitely watched and rooted for them. When I was 15 and heading into my first OHL season I worked out with Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden at the gym, and obviously it was good meeting them. Getting to know them and seeing how hard they worked in the weight room, I learned that if I want to get where they are I’ve got to train like them.
Question: So with the season over I would imagine that you are giving a lot of thought to the upcoming NHL draft, yes?
Bogosian: Now that the season is done you can kind of put away all of the things that happened during the year and just kind of look forward to June – I’m looking forward to it. It is going to be a good experience for everyone who is in the draft. Obviously there are some good players in this draft and hopefully everything works out for everyone and I wish everyone the best of luck.
Question: If your dreams come true and all the stars align are you wishing to somehow wind up with the Sens?
Bogosian: That would obviously be very cool to play that close to home, but I will be happy with anyone that drafts me.
Question: With that in mind, have you given any thought to coming west and playing in Hollywood for the Kings?
Bogosian: That would be very cool, actually. I went out to California my 10th grade year for a tournament in Huntington Beach. When we were out there I was just imagining what it would be like to play in the NHL out there and wear shorts every day and live the life and play hockey. That would be pretty sweet going out there to play.