Cool Cats end season with 6-4 loss in Regionals

The UK ice hockey team fell to Liberty 6-4 in the first round of the Regional Tournament in Philadelphia, ending a successful season for the team.

“I felt like we played really hard,” freshman defenseman Matt Kinman said. “The effort was there. There’s no reason to be hanging our heads.”

The Cool Cats took a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Liberty came back to outscore UK 6-3 in the final two periods.

“We knew our potential, but some injuries and sickness set us back in our last game,” senior defenseman Andrew Serres said.

The game trend was fitting of the Cats’ up and down season.

“We had a pretty good season, but I’m not happy with the way we had to lose.” senior goalie Jim Borgaard said.

The Cool Cats finished the season with a 20-12-1 record.

“It was great the way we came together,” Borgaard said. “This was the best team chemistry since I’ve been here.”

Freshman forward Gray McLaughlin said there were games where the team was “blown out of the water,” but team members kept the bigger picture in mind.

“We’d always be focused the next weekend,” Gray McLaughlin said. “We’d forget about (the loss) and come ready to play.”

This season, the upperclassmen made it a priority to help the new players.

“I was the new guy to the team and I had a really good time,” Kinman said. “It’s sad to see the seniors go.”

The Liberty game was the final game in the UK career of six seniors.

“I’m going to miss a lot of the seniors, especially Serres and (forward Josh) Knicker,” Gray McLaughlin said.

Serres was a two-year captain for the Cool Cats.

“I had a great time here at UK,” Serres said. “I got a good education and met some great people.”

Also leaving the team will be goalies Borgaard and Derek Steinbrecher, defenseman Jay Morgan and forward Sean Wormald.

“Hopefully we get some freshman who can replace them,” Gray McLaughlin said. “At least try to replace their skills, not their leadership.”

Borgaard said his experience with UK hockey was “unbelievable.”

“I’m going to miss going out and having fun in front of all those fans,” Borgaard said.

The Cool Cats will return with many skilled players including Kinman, Gray McLaughlin, freshman defenseman Jeremy Schmidt, and junior forwards Sean McLaughlin and Michael Getz.

“We’ve got a good group of guys coming back,” Kinman said. “We’re going to add a few new assets and have a really strong team.”

The Cool Cats hope to build on this season’s success for next year.

“We should go back to Regionals, possibly even further.” Gray McLaughlin said.