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New Ohio defenseman Alex Vazquez (left) working out with Arizona's Alex O'Dea (right).

Hockey: From Arizona to Ohio, Sean Hogan brings a familiar face to the Bobcats

New Ohio defenseman Alex Vazquez’s experience with Hogan, ACHA will help him adapt to the Bobcats.

Take two Michigan natives, a player and a coach, and put them on the same junior team in a rural Wyoming town.

Fast-forward four years and find those two on the same collegiate team in Arizona.

Now, two years after the season in Arizona — and six years after the season in Wyoming — you’ll find defenseman Alex Vazquez and Ohio coach Sean Hogan together once more.

“I’ve just known (Hogan) for such a long time that we kept in contact,” Vazquez said. “And eventually I sent him a message, I was like, ‘What’s it looking like with positions next year?”

After playing two seasons at fellow American Collegiate Hockey Association program Arizona, the first of which was under Hogan, Vazquez decided to get back to hearing guidance from a familiar voice.

Although Vasquez considered a few NCAA Division III schools, he felt his familiarity with Hogan’s coaching style made Ohio the right fit.

“He’s the best coach, in my opinion, in the ACHA” Vazquez said.

If there’s any player who can make that statement, it’s probably Vazquez.

Growing up playing hockey in Michigan, he knew Hogan as a player evaluator in the state. In 2009, then-16-year-old Vazquez played his first season of junior hockey for Hogan in Cody, Wyoming.

During the following three years, Vazquez spent time with seven teams in six different states and one Canadian province. He went as far east as Massachusetts, as far west (and north) as Alaska and as far south as Texas.

Then, in 2013 when it came time to select a university, Vazquez opted for Arizona where Hogan was entering his third year coaching.

“Out of all the coaches I had, he was my favorite,” Vazquez said. That statement was backed by over 12,000 miles of travelling and experience with seven non-Hogan teams.

When Hogan left Arizona for Ohio, Vazquez played one more year as a Wildcat before exploring other options and ultimately landing with Hogan again.

But the reunification of a well-travelled player and his former coach isn’t merely because of admiration or familiarity. Vazquez, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman according to eliteprospects.com, can make an immediate impact on Ohio’s depleted blue line.

Having lost three of their top six defensemen to graduation, including former captain Mike Kretz, the Bobcats will benefit from the presence of Vazquez, a two-year ACHA vet.

“That’s actually one of the bigger reasons why I came here,” Vazquez said. “I played defense for Hogan my first year (in Arizona), and then the coach this year (the 2014-15 season) put me as a forward and would not put me back as a defenseman.”

Vazquez, who had 11 goals and nine assists in 74 games with Arizona, says he has no problem playing forward but feels most comfortable as a defenseman.

From a familiar voice in his ear to getting back to his favorable position on the ice, Vazquez is anticipating a smooth transition into his Bobcat uniform. He doesn’t even mind moving away from the highly enviable Arizona weather, claiming that the Midwest is more “his style."

“There’s no palm trees and sunshine but I feel like I’m at home, if that makes any sense,” Vazquez said.

This article is the third in a series of five highlighting Ohio’s incoming hockey recruits for the 2015-16 season. Open tryouts will be held at Bird Arena in the fall, with details coming soon at ohiobobcatshockey.com.

jh950614@ohio.edu

@JordanHorrobin

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