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Ohio senior forward Vincent Nicolella watches as Illinois freshman defender Benjamin Jeon passes the puck during their game on Feb. 5 at Bird Arena. 

Hockey notebook: Ohio's recruiting trail never ends

Even with a national championship in sight, the Bobcats still have to keep their focus on the future.

After a long season, you'd think coach Sean Hogan and his staff would take some time to relax and recuperate. 

Instead, Hogan will drive hours to Detroit to watch junior hockey games all day, only to return to Athens at “1 or 2 a.m.”

“Basketball and football, they’ll go and be gone for a week,” Hogan said. “We don’t have as many resources, so we have to do things pretty quick.”

Throughout the season, Hogan and assistant Kyle Schussler stay on the recruiting trail, always looking to improve the team for next season.

The team is losing four forwards and a defenseman to graduation at the end of the next semester, and Hogan wants to fill-in the upcoming holes.

“You look at where you’re strong, what you want to get better at, and what you’re losing,” Hogan said.

The team continually recruits throughout the season and can even add recruits as late as August, as ACHA teams do not have to follow typical NCAA recruiting rules.

Hogan said that the negative aspect of essentially unshackled recruiting is that up until the first day of class, teams can continue to call a recruit in an attempt to flip his commitment.

“The difficulty portion is that there is no (national letter of intent), there’s no thing that can bind a kid to here,” Hogan said. “If a kid says he’s coming here, we take his word for it.”

Recruiting since the beginning of the season, the Bobcats have known what they’re specifically looking for in a recruit, even down to the league itself.

Ohio has nabbed several recruits thus far in the recruiting process already, and is always looking to add more.

The Bobcats typically look to recruit from the North American Hockey League, a Junior A Tier II league in the U.S. The NAHL is one of the the top junior leagues in the country.

Even with the long trips and hours poured into scouting and the delicate picking of players, Hogan will be the first to admit that the coaching staff takes a backseat when it comes to current players on the team.

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“I can call a kid and tell him 'til I’m blue in the face about ‘here’s Ohio University, it’s a great school’, but they don’t know me," Hogan said. "It feels like a sales pitch.

“But if they know a player on the team, that’s almost always an easier sell.”

While there's only three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Bobcats sole focus is on winning a national title.

But while the season requires Hogan and his staff’s full attention, recruiting never really ends.

“It’s just a constant cyclical thing," Hogan. "It just goes on all the time."

ag079513@ohio.edu

@AGill072

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