We had the CFL’s Grey Cup in town in 2007 and we may have to wait a while for the Stanley Cup… but professional hockey’s second-oldest trophy — the Calder Cup — could be in town sometime soon. That’s because Hope Minor Hockey product Jeff Hoggan won the cup on Tuesday night — and he’d like to bring it to Hope when he visits this summer.
Hoggan captained his Grand Rapids Griffins, of the American Hockey League, to a 4-2 series victory over the Syracuse Crunch in Syracuse, New York.
The son of Ann and Gerry Hoggan is a 12-year veteran of various professional leagues in North America and Europe — including 107 games in the NHL.
This year, he came back from a two-year stint in Germany and tried out for the Griffins, the farm team of the Detroit Red Wings.
“He just walked on, with no agent,” said Ann on Tuesday night, “and they liked him so much, they gave him the captaincy.”
Hoggan skated in 76 regular-season games this with the Griffins, scoring 20 goals and 45 points and he notched five goals and seven assists in 24 playoff games.
The Griffins took the long route to win the cup, avoiding only two games in their four series. They beat the Houston Aeros in the best-of-five opening round, three games to two.
Notably, it was 10 years ago that Hoggan was a rookie with the Aeros and helped them win their first Calder Cup. This, also, was the Griffins’ first Calder Cup.
Hoggan helped the Griffins edge the Toronto Marlies 4-2, then they needed all seven games to bump off Oklahoma City to get to the cup final.
They were up three games to none on Syracuse before allowing the Crunch to take the next two.
With the Griffins facing a 10-hour bus trip back to Syracuse, the Red Wings ownership did the team a favour and let them use the team jet. That shaved the travel to about one hour — and made the victory trip home a lot easier to appreciate.
Ann said she has been watching the games on the internet and enjoying the replays and interviews at griffinshockey.com — but when the game was tied 2-2, she had to look away.
“I couldn’t watch any more. I was so nervous.”
Then Brennan Evans got the 3-2 goal, with 9:54 to play and the Griffins knocked in two empty-netters to secure the cup.
Another former Hope Minor Hockey player, Aaron Saito, emailed The Standard about Hoggan’s championship run.
“He says if they win he plans on bringing the Cup back to Hope and having a big street hockey game,” wrote Saito last week.
Hoggan’s post-win response?
“It was truly the most special moment of a long and grinding road, pursuing nothing but the love of the greatest sport we know,” said Hoggan via email. “I’m proud to share this with my teammates — the future of the Red Wings organization — yet more proud to be from Hope, B.C. and share this with supporters of a small town kid with a blind, stubborn determination to pursue his passion for this great game.
“It’s a whirlwind right now and summer scheduling is yet to be determined. I certainly plan to come back to visit family and friends at some point this summer, as short as it’s going to be. If I can get my family organized and have the Cup in tow, all the better but I’ll keep you posted on dates, as I’m still unsure at this hour.
“I did joke with my old buddies, Weej [Chris Wejr], [Kent] Loupret and [Darryl] Soares that if we won it would be awesome to fire up one last street hockey game on Allison Ave. for ol’ times sake for the Calder Cup — rather than a 2 litre of Coke — this time. By the sounds of it, we may have to leave that to Aaron Saito to organize.”