By Patrick Thompson
The Cool Cats faced off twice against the Division I Indiana Hoosiers this weekend, losing 5-3 and 4-1.
Friday night’s home action ended in heartbreak as the Cats managed to claw their way back, tying the game at 3-3 about midway through the third period, but lost in the final minutes.
Indiana started the first period strong, scoring the first goal of the game just 2:15 into the game. At one point, UK was being outshot 9 to 1.
“D-1 teams are on the ice more and are in better shape, that’s the biggest difference,” UK head coach Rob Docherty said. “Talent wise there isn’t a big difference, but you have to play for 60 minutes, and it shows they are in slightly better shape.”
Senior captain Billy Glass agreed that when playing a Division I team, “it’s faster and a lot more physical.”
However, UK was able to turn up the tempo toward the end of the period, forcing turnovers and creating open shots.
UK finally answered when senior assistant captain Sean McLaughlin buried a slapshot with 1:56 remaining on the clock.
Both teams played a physical but clean match in the first period, resulting in two penalties between the teams. Toward the end the play became scrappy. UK fans began taunting Indiana players, leaving them frustrated and causing brawls in between whistles.
The physical play continued into the second period, with the teams committing eight total penalties.
UK faced a three-on-five penalty kill for almost five minutes as a result of multiple penalties in a short period of time.
UK was out shot in the second period, having just eight shots on goal, while Indiana ended the period with 23. UK also had trouble breaking the puck out of its defensive zone, as Indiana maintained its positioning and was able to move the puck on offense.
However, sophomore goalie Aaron Tenfelde kept UK in the game, as he stopped all 23 Hoosier shots in the second period, reaching across his body a few times to stop quick shots.
When describing Tenfelde’s weekend performance, Docherty had one word: “Fantastic.”
“He stopped 52 shots on Friday and showed he can be a big-game goalie,” Docherty said.
Indiana struck twice in the beginning of the third period, with 14:45 and 10:34 left on the clock, respectively. Both goals were scored in the slot, right in front of the UK net.
Down 3-1, UK had to find a way back in the game somehow, and it came off of two Indiana penalties midway through the period.
The first power play goal came with 8:21 remaining, as sophomore forward Hunter McFadden assisted junior forward Tony Woodward in the slot.
Soon after, UK capitalized on another power play and Glass was able to grab a rebound off of a shot from Woodward to find a wide open net.
With the game tied 3-3 with 6:47 remaining, UK had a chance to win. However, a costly penalty in the closing minutes caused UK to go down a man, and Indiana capitalized on its power play for the first time, taking the lead with 3:45 left in regulation.
Penalties “have been a reoccurring issue with us. We can’t afford to get them in those moments in the game,” Glass said.
UK committed another penalty with 1:19 remaining, which would leave them on a penalty kill for the remainder of the game.
Tenfelde was pulled from the game with a minute left to put the extra attacker on the ice, and made it five on five again.
However, Indiana was able to open the play up and score the empty netter at the buzzer, defeating the Cool Cats in a heartbreaker 5-3.