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Forward Aaron Bogosian sees depth in all areas as the catalyst to a deep run for the Walleye, who are in the Kelly Cup playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Toledo’s large group of talented players immediately impressed Bogosian, the team’s newest member.
Bogosian, acquired in a March 7 trade with Florida, has played in nine games for the Walleye.
“One of our main strengths is our depth,” he said. “I think we can go a long way. Up front, every player can make an impact in some sort of way. The D is so good, and they make it easy on us. Our two goalies also are playing well, so it has been easier for me to come into this team.”
The Walleye secured a playoff spot despite losing 2-0 to Reading on Sunday. Toledo clinched no worse than the eighth and final playoff position when Kalamazoo was eliminated with a loss to Wheeling.
But coach Nick Vitucci took issue with the idea that Toledo (35-26-9) has backed into the playoffs.
ON THE HOOK: Aaron Bogosian
“Coming into [Sunday’s] game, we are 10 games over .500, so it hasn’t been that bad of the year that we are backing into the playoffs,” he said. “We’ve been playing really well through spurts and inconsistently in others.”
Bogosian, who has a goal and an assist, said he felt “good energy” at Tuesday’s practice.
“The guys are excited we have clinched the playoffs,” he said. “At the same time, we’d like to gain ground still and not settle for eighth place.”
Toledo wraps up the regular season today at Fort Wayne and Friday at Wheeling. Both of those teams have been eliminated from the playoffs.
The field in the Eastern Conference is set with Reading capturing the top seed. Cincinnati earned the No. 2 spot by winning the North Division. Toledo, which will finish second in the North, could play any of the seven teams.
Bogosian, who had 11 goals and 15 assists with Florida this season, has been paired on a line with two other veterans, forwards Randy Rowe and Kyle Rogers.
“It’s been fun playing with those guys,” Bogosian said. “We are all kind of the same type of player. We grind and work hard. You know what you’re going to get with them. They’re trustworthy.”
Bogosian, a 26-year-old who is in his second season of pro hockey, said he hopes to help Rowe (721 career games) and Rogers (354) win a title.
“You want to play hard for those guys,” he said.
Bogosian said the vets made him feel at home when he was acquired from the Everblades in exchange for forward Pat Knowlton.
Bogosian, a native of Massena, N.Y., is the older brother of NHL defenseman Zach Bogosian, who plays for the Winnipeg Jets. After a four-year career at St. Lawrence University in New York, Aaron Bogosian started his pro career last season in the AHL with Springfield.
The forward leads the ECHL with four shorthanded goals and six shorthanded points.
“I enjoy playing on the penalty kill,” he said. “I like to block shots. If you do your job in the D-zone, you will create scoring chances.”
Bogosian is the son of former Syracuse defensive back Ike Bogosian. But Aaron Bogosian said his father steered him and his brother away from football.
“He had a bad knee injury that ended his career,” Bogosian said. “He wanted us to get into hockey, and we loved it right away.”
Bogosian said he was thrilled when his brother was drafted in the first round with the No. 3 pick by Atlanta in 2008.
“I’m his No. 1 fan,” Aaron said. “It’s been so exciting to see the success he has had. We come from a small town and not too many get out and make it. It's cool to see.”
For the Bogosian brothers, the dream always was to play pro hockey.
“Not too many people can say that they play professional sports for a living,” he said.
FISH TALES: Toledo was held to a season-low 16 shots on goal in a 3-1 loss to Reading on Saturday and was held scoreless in a 2-0 loss to the Royals on Sunday. … Toledo finished the regular season with a 18-12-6 record at home.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.