Midseason report: Cool Cats looking to come off break hot


Forward Tony Valerino puts a shot on net for UK’s first goal of the game against Ohio State University at Lexington Ice Center on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. The Cats were defeated by the Buckeys 5-4. Photo by Scott Hannigan

The UK ice hockey team has great expectations for the second half of its season and it is using the momentum from a sweep over a ranked opponent to take the team into the playoffs.

Senior defenseman Andrew Serres said the first half of the season was “OK.”

“It was a little disappointing to tie against Dayton the second night,” Serres said.

That tie followed an 8-0 victory over Dayton the night before.

“We’re 11th right now and beat a lot of good teams,” junior forward Michael Getz said. “We’ve got to pass some people.”

The team currently has a 13-8-1 record going into this weekend’s home matchups against Louisville on Friday and University of Maryland in Baltimore County on Saturday. UMBC is currently ranked second in the Southeast ACHA.

The Cool Cats are confident after their sweep over then-fourth ranked Virginia Tech on December 3 and 4, which both senior goalie Jim Borgaard and junior forward Josh Knicker feel was the highlight of the season thus far.

Other notable moments from the first half of the season were the team’s third period comeback over Boston University on November 12 and a 17-2 victory at Louisville on October 7.

The team suffered a tragic loss in October when senior forward and assistant captain Taylor Vit died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

“It was a rough semester emotionally,” Getz said.

For the remainder of the season, the Wildcats will have the help of former standout player Tony Valerino, who won’t play during games but will be working with the coaching staff and helping the team at practice.

This Saturday’s UMBC game and the Ohio State games on January 28 and 29 are the “make or break weekends” of the season Borgaard said.

One of the keys to the team’s success looking ahead is that “the defense is really stepping up,” Knicker said.

Borgaard believes the team needs to “play more consistently” to reach its goals for the second half of the season.

“We need to get in better shape,” Getz said.

Despite some early season disappointment, the team is confident in what it can do the second half of the season.

“There’s no reason not to win every game this semester,” Borgaard said.

Helping the team achieve its goal are three new players including freshman Matt Kinman, who comes to UK after playing in the United States Hockey League.

“He will be a great asset,” Serres said.

Knicker knows every game is vital for this UK team to make the playoffs.

“We will win out,” Knicker said.