On most weekends when coach Sean Hogan makes the stroll from the Ohio locker room to its bench, he has the same things with him: scratch paper, a pen, a piece of gum and two rings on each hand.
On his left ring finger rests his wedding ring, but on the right is a ring that says “national champions.”
Eleven years ago, Hogan and Oakland were crowned champions of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. Now, Hogan and the Bobcats are tasked with defeating the team that gave him his coaching start.
“I’ll always be thankful for Oakland University hockey because that’s where I got my opportunity,” Hogan said. “That’s where I started.”
As it happens to most coaches, they do not usually stay too long in one place — Hogan is no exception. After serving as head coach at Oakland, Hogan has held same position at two other teams within the ACHA: Arizona and now, Ohio.
Hogan’s first and current programs are set to face each other on the ice for first time since the 2012-13 season, when Ohio swept Oakland by 4-3 and 6-0 scores.
Where Hogan sees an area of concern for No. 4 Ohio is being able to match the physicality that Oakland brings, all while keeping emotions in check and heads cooled.
“They’re going to be very physical,” Hogan said. “We need to be mentally prepared to not take penalties, to not take retaliation penalties.”
Ohio has played physical before, though, in its season series with Robert Morris-Illinois and a weekend series with Pittsburgh that resulted in 96 penalty minutes in just six games.
Inversely, the Bobcats matchup with the Grizzlies is comparative to its matchup with the Panthers from two weeks ago in that the Bobcats are simply more talented.
“Our overall team is better, but we need to capitalize on our opportunities,” Hogan said.
Those opportunities Hogan mentioned are a result of the Bobcats’ consistent ability to hold the puck in the opposing team’s zone and get shots off.
In its last six games, Ohio has averaged 4.83 goals per game. If Ohio is able to get its shots off, it is quite possible that the average could increase because Oakland goalie Ian Dvorak holds a .896 save percentage and, on average, allows 3.61 goals per game.
Determining on-ice success goes back to if the Bobcats can play their game.
“We need to keep them pinned in their end,” Hogan said. “If we do that, we’ll have success this weekend.”
Ohio will get its first chance to do so Friday night at 7:30 p.m.