It’s a date that Bryan Hogan will probably never forget — Feb. 25, 2010.
The scenario? A first-period breakaway stop by the former Michigan hockey netminder against a Notre Dame forward in the final weekend of the regular season.
Despite making the save on the play, Hogan paid a price — a huge price at that and one that left him sprawled out on the ice for a few minutes at Yost Ice Arena with a groin injury. More importantly, though, and certainly more costly, the price Hogan paid that night had a detrimental impact on the rest of his career as a Wolverine.
Hogan didn’t see playing time during the rest of the 2009-10 season and upon entering 2010-11, the Highland, Mich. native and fellow teammate Shawn Hunwick were in a neck-and-neck race for the No. 1 starting position.
Prior to The Big Chill at the Big House in mid-December, Michigan coach Red Berenson announced Hogan would start in front of 100,000-plus fans at Michigan Stadium. But Hogan didn’t even play a second, as he injured his other groin in the pre-game warmups, solidifying Hunwick’s role as Berenson’s netminder for the remainder of the season.
“I’m starting to get used to this,” Hogan said the following week to The Michigan Daily, after Hunwick carried Michigan to a 5-0 win over Michigan State at Michigan Stadium.
Fast forward to the present, and Hogan has since graduated from the University — he finished his career with 52 wins, seven shutouts and a fair amount of question marks and “what ifs.”
In the end, he’s decided to forego playing in the East Coast Hockey League and instead, play in Europe for the upcoming year. With the help from an agent who specializes in helping clients play overseas, Hogan will head to Norway in mid-August to play for Manglerud Star in GET-ligaen, essentially the Norwegian Elite League.
“I’m excited to go out there,” Hogan said last Friday. “I thought that there’s a better opportunity for me, with regards to playing time. I just felt like it fit me better … It’s something new. A lot of guys bounce around in the East Coast Hockey League, which is where I would have been if I would have played here.”
After the Wolverines lost to Minnesota-Duluth in overtime in the NCAA title game this past April, Hogan had the opportunity to play with two ECHL teams, with one of the teams being the Kalamazoo K-Wings.
Hogan joked that he’d already sold all of his equipment at the end-of-the year garage sale the team holds after the conclusion of every season. Plus, he said that he wanted to finish his degree, so he declined to head to the professional ranks just then.
While driving home from New York last week to train back in Michigan and work a few goalie camps, Hogan explained that he hopes to eventually play in the Swedish Elite League, the premier league in all of Europe. And if the opportunity arises, skate in the American Hockey League soon thereafter.
Former Alaska Nanook, Dion Knelsen, is on a similar path. Knelsen graduated in 2010 and this past season, played in Norway with the Sparta Warriors in the GET-ligaen. This upcoming year, Knelsen is skating for Mora IK in the HockeyAllsvenksa, a step below the Swedish Elite League.
For Hogan, though, the time table for progressing might be a little on the longer side, considering he hasn’t played significant minutes in over a year.
“Europe — it’s just like starting over again,” Hogan said. “You have to build yourself up … Hopefully within three years, I can get a good offer.”