If we told you on the podcast back on October 12th that East Lake, who was 1-6-0 at the time, would beat out division rivals Mitchell and Steinbrenner in the playoffs and secure a trip to the Western Conference final, you would have laughed. If we told you that same two-points-in-seven-games East Lake team was going to qualify for Nationals four months later, I would have been told to turn in my badge at work for the general safety of the hockey community at large. They did qualify for nationals though. They took the state champions to shootout for the first game of the tournament-I was there, it really happened. Why it happened it one of the reasons this article is going out. They finished the regular season going 9-3-3 over the next fifteen games and yes, we like to credit a coaching change, but the players were the ones executing. East Lake was as freshman heavy as you can get. They had 14 freshmen on their roster. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to prepare for the changes that take place when going from rec/travel to high school, and that 1-6-0 record through the first seven games is likely credited to that. All it took to find their groove was a few small changes and players to step up. Today’s subject, Daniil Bogdanov was one of those players. I was lucky enough to first watch Daniil skate at EDP tryouts and have spent more than a few Tuesday nights at 9 pm watching him run through Dmitry Afanasenkov’s gauntlets for EDP Skills Sessions. He wears 29 to model Nathan Mackinnon’s work ethic and speed, but for now all you need to know is that this is a kid to remember every time you face East Lake the next three years.
Daniil started hockey when he was 8. That’s give or take 7 years under his belt with starting for a few seasons in rec leagues before calling the Scorpions home as his first travel team. With him joining the LHSHL, he also made the underclassmen Elite Development Program, and became an integral part of East lake’s offense as soon as he found his stride. His consistency brought a breath of fresh air to the team. From the end of October, Daniil averaged over 1.6 points a game including through playoffs. A few EDP coaches have been known to joke with Daniil about how serious he is, and if you need an example of killer instinct in action, I asked him what he does for fun or for a hobby and he didn’t skip a beat, “Lately I’ve been going on long runs. I just want to stay in shape” I have sympathy for the players next year that decide to try to go into the corner with him. I wanted to know what his goals were entering his freshman season, “For hockey it was just to make an impression. We had a lot of freshman on the team, so it was important to get a jump on everybody else and get out there and score some goals. Outside of hockey, I just wanted to get all A’s and B’s.” Although he was competing for ice time with his team, he assured it was all synergy and positivity within the team, “Before the game, our locker room is usually fun and everyone is pretty loose. I think as a team the coaches and the players have a good bond and we can all have fun while in the locker room or on the bench. Coach Anna’s been a great coach so far and he knows when to push us and when to let us play our game.”
Daniil has pretty clear goals in front of himself and he works towards them every day, “After high school, I want to go to college, hopefully a D1 school. One of my top colleges right now is Notre Dame. I think it’d be a great place to play for hockey and also get my education. My dream job would probably be a programmer, or a software developer. As a kid, I’ve always had a talent for math and it’s always come pretty easy to me. My dad is a software developer and that’s where I got my inspiration. I’ve started some computer classes at East Lake and hope to continue that into college.” I asked if his hockey goals were affected by playing in this league, and I wanted to know what it’s like playing against such a spectrum of talent, “I think it’s special, obviously a bit different from most leagues because you have guys on your team that have never played travel, and you have guys that are playing higher levels of hockey than you. It’s a good learning experience to play with the guys that are better, and sometimes you can give a few tips to guys who aren’t as good.” It’s often we see players become ambitious to a fault after a successful season early in their high school careers, but it’s humbling to see Daniil wish to take his talents towards being a leader for his teammates. He knows this is how to replicate and build on the success of this season, and there’s bound to be a few coaches reading this article that are jealous of what Jim Anna and East Lake have for the next few seasons.
Daniil wanted to leave the interview with advice to his incoming teammates for next year and his gratitude to those around him, “If you’re new to high school, my message would probably be that you have to be ready to get hit. There’s a lot of guys who are bigger and stronger than you, so I would probably just advise to be ready. I’m thankful for my teammates and my coaches, but I mostly want to thank my parents. My mom and dad were the ones that drove me to each and every game and supported me every single day. Without them I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now. When I’m a senior, I want to look back and make sure that I enjoyed my time in high school. Obviously, it only happens once but I want to know that I enjoyed every moment of it.”