Year three of Wildcat hockey begins

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Jade Bower | The Daily Wildcat Jade Bowers/The Daily Wildcat

Entering his 10th year of coaching college hockey, Arizona head coach Sean Hogan admitted that he’s almost never happy with the first few days of on-ice practices. However, so far this week the 2013 squad has been a pleasant surprise.

Senior forward Andrew Murmes said the first couple of practices on the ice were filled with goals and laughs and were an overall good time. It was like “night and day” in comparison to 2012’s opening ice practice, he said.

“Just like with anything we’ve talked about before, we’re going through the process every year of getting better each year,” Hogan said.

Perhaps the attitudes in Monday’s off-ice workouts foreshadowed the success of this week. Hogan said he was very impressed by his players’ attitudes and the rigorous 300-yard shuttles they ran, working hard and picking one another up.

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The entire Wildcat hockey staff has continued to drill into players’ heads the importance of outworking, out-willing and outcompeting every opponent and even one another in practices.

Hogan also shared his favorite quote with his players on Sunday’s post-open camp meeting: “Effort is between you and you.” The quote is from an inspirational speech of two-time Super Bowl champion NFL linebacker Ray Lewis.

In his time coaching Oakland’s hockey program, Hogan said he learned that team camaraderie off from the ice is just as important as the team’s work ethic on it.

“We [Oakland] didn’t have more skill than everyone else,” Hogan said to his players in Sunday’s meeting. “What we had was a love in that locker room and a love for one another like I have never seen. I wanted to come to the rink every day because every guy on that team wanted to be there more than anywhere else, and that’s why we won.”

Arizona’s 18 returning players are expected to play a crucial role in providing the 10 freshmen with knowledge and leadership. Five out of the six seniors are the final remaining players from former head coach Leo Golembiewski’s Arizona Icecats era.

Former Icecat or not, all are hungrier than ever to win and establish the “Wildcat hockey way” with the newcomers, and solidify it with the younger returners.

“I’m going to bring in what Hogan has brought to us, bring winning back, bring a sense of leadership, what the Wildcat hockey program is all about and how fortunate and lucky we are to not only be a part of this team, but also this school,” Murmes said.

Senior wingers Murmes and Ansel Ivens-Anderson, alongside defenseman Michael Basist, have led the team in stretching on the ice so far. However, Hogan shot down the idea that this was a sign of the three frontrunners for the next team captain. He explained that for now, the seniors will lead in the practices until an official captain is picked sometime before the season starts.

Like team captain, starting goalie is another title that remains wide open between senior Steven Sisler, sophomore Dylan Hojnacki and freshman Garrett Patrick, who played for the Austin Bruins last year. Tuesday was Patrick’s first official on-ice practice at the college level.

“It was good; I felt fresh out there and thought I had a good practice,” Patrick said. “This is definitely a good pace. I think the Bruins started off with more of a conditioning approach, but this one’s more flow drills and getting shots.”

The 2013 Wildcat hockey season commences Sept. 27 at NAU.

— Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo


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