This weekend is Homecoming for Arizona football, but for Wildcat hockey head coach Sean Hogan it’s more like homecoming to Tucson.
This Friday and Saturday No. 17 Arizona hosts No. 7 Oakland, Hogan’s former team, which is led by his good friends head coach Jeremy Bachusz and assistant coach Gordie Schaeffler.
Hogan called Bachusz his best friend and chose him to be his successor at Oakland University in Michigan. The two talk nearly every day.
“Generally it’s a quick conversation, but we’re good friends, and obviously we’re competitors but at the same time we talk about our teams and give each other advice,” Bachusz said.
Hogan won’t have a problem putting together a scouting report for the Grizzlies.
“I know everything that’s going on with his team, who’s hurt, who’s injured, and he knows everything that’s going on with our team,” Hogan said.
Hogan coached Oakland from 2005 to 2009, going 88-50-7. The Grizzlies won a Division II national championship in 2006 and then a Division I championship in 2007, when both Bachusz and Schaeffler served as assistants.
Hogan was also an assistant coach at Oakland when it won the Division II national title in 2004.
“It gave me my coaching start and I loved it,” Hogan said. “It was a lot of fun. It’s a great program. They do a really good job with their hockey program.”
Hogan and Bachusz grew up together in Michigan and went to Our Lady of the Lakes High School in Waterford, Mich. together. They met when Bachusz played hockey with Hogan’s brother in grade school.
“Then Sean and I lost touch a bit until about high school, and started hanging out again at about that time,” Bachusz said.
Last year Arizona and Oakland played in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I Showcase, a matchup that they requested the commissioner make.
Oakland led just 2-1 in the game going into the third period, but then No. 11 OU pulled away to win 5-1. Hogan sees the two friendly rivals playing each other every year now.
“We wanted to see each other and have him come out here,” Hogan said. “Every season he’s coaching there I’m sure we’ll be playing each other.”
Hogan picked Bachusz as his successor and even though the program was in rebuilding mode when he left, the Grizzlies have been successful, winning two conference titles and national runner up honors.
Last year, No. 13 seeded Oakland knocked No. 4 seeded ASU out of the national tournament and went 3-2 in overtime in a game that Hogan attended.
Oakland would go on to finish second at the tournament.
“He was happy for us first off,” Bachusz said. “We were obviously big underdogs the whole tournament and him being a friend, he was definitely cheering for us the whole way.”
Hogan left Oakland to go to Wyoming and lead the juniors team, the Yellowstone Quake, and then he was an assistant coach and director of video operations for Western Michigan University’s Division I Hockey program, before coming to Tucson.
“He’s definitely grown as a coach and changed his approach a bit,” Bachusz said. “He’s a lot tougher in his players and demands a lot more.”
Bachusz is convinced Hogan can replicate his success in Oakland.
“For sure, it’s only his second year as coach there and I know there’s been some big changes to the program,” Bachusz said. “It’s going to take some time to get his own players in there, but I know that the team’s responding already and he’s going to keep bringing in really good talent and I’m pretty confident that they will continue to be very competitive going forward.”