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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hogan to face off against best buddy

When you cut out everything, a game comes down to a battle of one side against another, the classic us-against-them.

Of course, things start to get complicated when friends are on the opposing bench.

Best friends, to be exact.

In the upcoming American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I Showcase on Saturday, the No. 22 Wildcats and head coach Sean Hogan are facing off against Oakland University — the program Hogan led just three seasons ago — and Hogan’s best friend, head coach Jeremy Bachusz.

“I talk to him almost every day,” Hogan said of Bachusz. “He is literally one of my best friends.”

Their friendship didn’t develop at the professional level though; the two men have been friends ever since they were little kids.

“(Bachusz) played hockey with my brother when he was really little, when we were about eight (to) 10 years old,” Hogan said. “We went to high school together, as well, for a little while. We actually became re-engaged as friends more when I was probably about 22.”

The two grew up in Michigan and attended Our Lady of the Lakes High School in Waterford, Mich. Then, when Hogan was the head coach at Oakland, Bachusz joined his staff as an assistant. When Hogan left to coach the junior-level Yellowstone Quake, Bachusz filled the vacant position at Oakland.

“Sean is a great guy,” Bachusz said. “He is very passionate about hockey and obviously a very good speaker and good motivator for his players. And he is also one of my best friends.

“We are excited to play,” Bachusz added. “Both of us are competitive people and we are looking forward to potentially creating a little bit of a rivalry with our two schools.”

However, Bachusz isn’t the only member in the Oakland program that is familiar with Hogan.

“God, I know everybody over there,” Hogan said.

Gordie Schaeffler, an assistant coach at Oakland, is one of those people. He and Hogan have had a friendship dating back to their youth.

“I’ve known Sean for a lot of years,” Schaeffler said. “We played when we were pee wees together for a couple years.

“I don’t really remember much from then. We used to have a lot of fun though, I’ll tell you that.”

And according to Schaeffler, Hogan hasn’t changed too much since then.

“He still has the same laugh that he has always had,” Schaeffler said. “He was just always happy, outgoing, go-lucky, and wanting to have fun and do crazy things.”

The matchup between the two schools is no coincidence. Hogan said that the two teams called the commissioner and requested to be matched together at the showcase.

When Hogan was at Oakland, he won a Division I and Division II championship with Bachusz and Schaeffler on staff.

But he was also the hockey director for the youth program and the rink manager, in addition to being the head coach. He was offered a bump in pay and a chance to be just the head coach for Yellowstone, so he had to go, Hogan said.

Because of this seamless exit, there isn’t any animosity between the two sides; just friends who have to motivate their teams to crush the, not-so-hated, opposition.

“I’m sure there will be times that I’ll look over at (Bachusz’s) bench and I’ll try not to laugh,” Hogan said. “Just because it is going to be so strange and fun.”

Since the master is taking on his apprentices, there will be a lot of pressure on both of the sides to perform well, especially since beating a friend always comes with an extra bonus.

“(The victory) would give us a little bit of bragging rights and some good ol’ ribbin’ to give him for at least the next year,” Schaeffler said.

If the Wildcats are able to beat Oakland, it will provide them with a huge boost in the polls, especially since there will be a number of voting members in coaches at the Showcase. Hogan is optimistic about his team’s chances.

“(Bachusz) is my good buddy,” Hogan said. “But we are going
to win.”

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