Cool Cats scrap, remain unbeaten


The UK Wildcats take on the Dayton Flyers at Lexington Ice Center on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

By Mills Armbruster

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The UK men’s ice hockey team had its first home game in two weeks Saturday night as it took on the Cincinnati Bearcats at the Lexington Ice Center.

The Cool Cats battled through an extended weekend schedule as they traveled to Louisville to face the Cardinals on Thursday and to the University of Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats on Friday. They returned home Saturday night to battle UC in front of their home fans.

“We started running away with the game in Louisville Thursday night,” UK head coach Rob Docherty said. “We started losing our concentration until they scored and we realized we need to play our best against every hockey team. It was good to have a little bit of travelling in there before a home competition on Saturday.”

UK (7-0-0) came out of the weekend without a loss and remains undefeated on the season. The Cats outscored their weekend opponents 36-14 combined as they punished Louisville 17-2 and routed UC twice with scores of 7-4 on Friday and 12-8 on Saturday.

“You couldn’t ask for anything more than to be undefeated,” senior forward Taylor Vit said. “Teams will try to play their best now knowing that we haven’t lost yet and the games will just get harder and harder. It will give us a chance to get better.”

After trailing 8-7 in the third period in Saturday night’s contest against UC, UK bounced back with four unanswered goals. Junior forward Michael Getz accounted for three of the four goals as he racked up a hat trick for the game.

“Cincinnati started playing real physical with us in the third period Friday night,” sophomore forward Dylan Rohar said. “They carried their physicality into Saturday night’s game and kind of took away our concentration. It was a big wake-up call for us.”

The Cool Cats now look ahead to the American Collegiate Hockey Association Showcase in Youngstown, Ohio, this weekend.

“We get to play good teams that we don’t usually play,” Vit said. “It’s a great opportunity to show we can play and to impress the rankings committee.”

The ACHA Showcase is also an opportunity to see how the team matches up to the other teams that aren’t on their schedule.

“Usually only the better teams in the conference are invited,” Rohar said. “Some aren’t on our schedule so we don’t have the chance to play them during the season. It gives us the chance to see where are team is at.”

A stretch of away games now lies ahead for the Cats as they will face Illinois State, Temple University, Siena College and Penn State before their next home game.

“We just have to be prepared to play on the road,” Vit said. “We have to be ready to play just like we do back home. If we can play like we’re home, we can find ourselves with some quality road wins.”

The schedule will only become more difficult as the season progresses. Docherty believes the Cats are prepared for the task at hand.

“We’re 7-0,” Docherty said. “We’re the team to beat from here on out. We have to win the road games, and we’re ready for the challenge.”