Hogan’s strategy shifts

By Web Master

By Kyle Bauer

Contributing Reporter

“It was a tough pill to swallow,” said Oakland University hockey coach Sean Hogan when

the

buzzer sounded, ending the 2008 American Collegiate Hockey Association

National Tournament run for the Golden Grizzlies, at the hands of the

Oklahoma Sooners.

But you can’t win them all, right? For Hogan, up until last year that cliché didn’t apply.

Since

Hogan took over as head coach in 2005, OU hadn’t lost a playoff game.

The team won back-to-back ACHA championships to open Hogan’s tenure.

Losing in the post season wasn’t a comfortable feeling for the coach.

Last

season’s performance lowered the standard for the program and was a big

disappointment for Hogan. As such, he has taken up new coaching

philosophies to raise the bar once again for the OU hockey program.

OU hockey has a championship tradition and Hogan wants to find a new way to get back on top.

The players can point to specific changes that Hogan is making to achieve that goal.

Sophomore

defensemen Collin Ronayne has noticed an attitude change in Hogan.

“There’s a big difference, a lot more dedication from him but also

everyone. He’s upped the pressure.”

Returning leading scorer Kevin Kranker emphasized that there have been major changes in Hogan’s demeanor.

“Hogan has been really gung-ho. He’s been really intense. He won’t let us beat ourselves,” Kranker said.

Prior

to this season, OU was able to rely on the top line to carry the load

offensively. That is one aspect that players and coaches alike see

changing, as Hogan plans on relying on his second and third lines now

more than any previous season.

Hogan believes that will be the biggest difference on the ice.

“In

the past, we relied on a handful of players to contribute. We are

trying to be more balanced up front, doing a lot of cycling in the

offensive zone, trying to get all five players on the ice involved,”

Hogan said.

Another returning top scorer, Jesse Worell, figures

that he’ll play a big part in scoring, but also that not one OU player

will necessarily dominate the highlight reel.

“There’s not going to be one big scorer this year. It’s going to be a team effort,” Worell said.

The

philosophical change offensively does have some reasoning behind it.

The Grizzlies have gotten the rap from many rival programs in the ACHA

that they had merely one or two star players and never a complete team.

Some believe that was why they were eliminated in the first round last

season and why they won’t return to prominence for quite some time.

This

theory is one Hogan is very aware of and he has used it to motivate

himself and his team to step up and prove the rest of the league wrong.

“We are highly motivated, the coaches and the veteran players. The

perception has always been we were a couple top-end players to carry us

and that’s it. We want to change that this season and do it by

returning to the finals.”

Hogan wants to return to the ACHA

finals simply because he’s used to winning championships. The same goes

for senior defensemen Jarrett Samp and Nick Ranck, forward John Parrish

and goalie Collin Chase, who were all there for the championship teams.

The OU hockey club has established a winning tradition and the players

want to get back to that level just as badly as Hogan.

“Three

championships in four years, it was the first thing that got my

attention when coming here,” said highly touted freshmen defensemen

Brian Jacobs.

It encapsulates what Hogan has already

accomplished in his time as head coach. With the increased dedication,

improved off-ice training, focus on a more balanced scoring attack and

the return of key veteran players, Hogan is working towards a greater

coaching accomplishment.

He has the ability to return this

young, hungry team to the ACHA finals. Maybe a year from now OU will be

able to raise a banner for a fourth championship in six years, and

Hogan will be able to sleep again at night.