Kentucky hockey suffers first loss of season against DePaul


A Kentucky hockey player moves the puck up the rink during the game against EKU on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at The Lexington Ice Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 6 to 3. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Kayla Woodson

Kentucky hockey lost their first game of the season on Saturday, relinquishing a three-goal lead to the DePaul Blue Demons.

DePaul overwhelmed the Cats in the third period of the back-half of a two-game series in Lexington. The night kicked off with a ceremonial puck drop by the very first hockey club president and team president Mark Shupe. 

Both teams battled for an early lead, but Kentucky nabbed the first goal thanks to freshman winger Dan Quartapella. Senior winger Gary Eastlack soon followed up with a second goal, giving UK a quick 2-0 lead. 

DePaul, much like Tennessee, brought physicality to the Lexington Ice Center. Where the Blue Demons excelled in aggression, they lacked in control and defense.”It’s been a very physical matchup,” junior goaltender Jacob Gray said while cheering on his teammates from the student section.

UK did not shy away from DePaul’s aggression, matching it and then some.

The two sides traded goals in the second period, as freshman winger Aiden Darnell nabbed his first goal for the Wildcats. Senior Ryan Huesman would then collect a fourth goal for Kentucky, which the Blue Demons would match yet again, keeping Kentucky’s lead to two goals heading into the final period.

The physicality ramped up at the end of the second period, an intense scuffle between the teams resulted in players from both teams being disqualified for the rest of the game including UK senior defenseman Zach Bartuce.

DePaul got out on the front foot in the third period, eventually tying the game at four goals each. Unable to regain focus, Kentucky were unable to overcome the Blue Demon’s pressure, and conceded a fifth goal, giving DePaul their first lead of the night.

Kentucky were unable to respond and DePaul won the game, 5-4, stealing one in Lexington.

“We’re out of shape, we’re not conditioned properly. We didn’t play good defense. We let up a lot, we don’t have good positioning throughout the zones. The other thing is that we still don’t have the desire to finish other teams when we have the opportunity to walk out with a win,” Kentucky head coach Tim Pergram said. 

Despite the loss, Shupe was bursting with pride at how far the University of Kentucky Hockey team has come since his time on the team and marveled at the talented players on the ice this year.

“It’s so satisfying to see this team thrive after 37 years. They are doing great. This team is bigger, faster, more talented, than the teams that I’ve played on. They are a very strong team. The 10 years I spent helping build this team has paid off,” Shupe said.

With the fans in mind, Pergram expressed great remorse in the outcome of the game:

”I apologize to the fans that we did not get a win. The fans were outstanding this whole weekend series. I apologize personally for not putting a good product out today.” Pergram said. 

Similarly, captain Tim Burke was disheartened by the team’s performance:

“It was obviously very disappointing. I think we had a good start. Not much to say about after that. We fell apart as a team. we let our fans down,” Burke said. “There’s no worse feeling than letting down all those fans that show up at midnight to watch us play for three hours.”

Kentucky will look to put their disappointing performance behind them as they prepare for their next game against the Jr. Cyclones on Sept. 25. 

“We definitely have a good team this year, we’re just not there yet,” Burke said.