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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Q&A: New coach Sean Hogan excited about new era of Arizona hockey

After being known as the IceCats and playing under coach and general manager Leo Golembiewski for 32 years, Arizona has radically changed the identity of its hockey team. The Wildcats are now officially a club at the university and have been rebranded as the Arizona Wildcats hockey team. Head coach Sean Hogan took over this season, and the Daily Wildcat caught up with him as he prepares for No. 22 Arizona’s first game against No. 9 ASU in Tempe this weekend.

Daily Wildcat: What pressure do you feel in replacing Coach G after 32 years?

Sean Hogan: I don’t necessarily feel any pressure. I’m very excited about the position; I think it is a good opportunity for me, and a good opportunity for the hockey program, as well. I definitely respect what Coach G did here for 32 years, but I’m excited and the team’s excited, and the school’s excited to kind of head off in this new direction. We are definitely looking forward to everything this is going to bring.

How do you plan on making this your team?

We have already started on changing the culture right away. Going forward we’re not the Icecats anymore, we’re the Wildcats. The commitment level here is definitely been raised with the university backing. We have upgraded the schedule. We have upgraded the off-ice program. We are out in the community volunteering our time with the local youth hockey groups as well as the roller hockey community. So all around, I think it’s not about me leaving my stamp, but it’s about just making it what we are going to call Wildcat hockey. And we are pretty excited about that.”

What are your expectations for the team this season?

For us, we need to make the national tournament. The team hasn’t made the national tournament since, I believe, 2004 so about six, seven years. We want to do that, we want to change that this year … The opportunity is there for us to be successful, it’s just about us making sure that we are ready to take on that task.

What are the strengths of the team?

We are going to be very hard to play against. We are going to be a physical team. We are going to be very structured in all three zones. We are pretty quick, we are fast up front. We got some strong defenseman. I think we are an all-around strong team, I don’t know if we have any individual superstars. But we are definitely going to be a total team effort every night.

How have the players responded to having a new coach?

So far it’s been great; we haven’t had any problems. The guys seem extra committed. The players have said that to me, that they are excited about the change as well, and they are excited about future of the program. I think we are definitely headed in the right direction.

Why did you decide to take this job?

Well a lot of reasons … being able to run your own program, and to be able to do that at a school like the University of Arizona, with the facilities like this, and a fan base that nears 6,000 fans a game for an (ASU) game, and to be able to live in Tucson, and to be able to have all those experiences.

Why did the university choose you for this position?

It’s hard to talk about yourself. I think my experience for one. I’m 33 years old, but I’ve had plenty of head coaching experience. I’ve won two national championships in (the ACHA) as a head coach (at Oakland University), coached a Junior-A level program (Yellowstone Quake), where we made the finals, and then also I obviously have experience at the NCAA Division-1 coaching level (as an assistant at Western Michigan University), which has been great. I worked under Jeff Blashill last year, who’s one of the best hockey minds out there, he’s now an assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings. So kind of having that pedigree and coming through that line of coaching made me a strong candidate for sure.

Has there been any effect from all the changes, any learning curve for the team?

There is always a little bit of a learning curve but these guys jumped right in, head first. I’m pretty impressed with the work ethic. I think we have good leadership … We have some pretty complicated hockey philosophies here and they bought right in, and it’s been great. I’m really excited about opening up this weekend Friday and Saturday night. I think we are going to turn some heads.

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