Cool Cats suit up for new season

Forward Dylan Rohar handles the puck in the game against Kennesaw State at Lexington Ice Center on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. The Cool Cats won 10-2. Photo by Scott Hannigan | Staff (Scott Hannigan/Staff)

By Mills Armbruster

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It’s been about seven months without a midnight showdown at the Lexington Ice Center, and the UK men’s hockey team is more than ready for the season to begin.

UK head coach Rob Docherty will lead the team onto the ice for his fifth season as the Cats prepare for the promising, yet demanding regular season.

Even with trips to Ohio State University, Penn State University and Virginia Tech, Docherty is confident the Cool Cats will have a productive year.

“We have a tough schedule away from home this year,” Docherty said. “However, I have no doubt we will be in contention with all of those other universities.”

It is widely known road games are more difficult than ones at home, but UK is still convinced it can pull off road wins.

“Who or where we play doesn’t affect us, although we do have a huge advantage at home with our fans,” junior defenseman Hunter Lyons said.

Kentucky returns 16 players on the 26-man roster this year, and with its experience and leadership, UK will have poise and control on the ice this year.

“Our [veterans] give 110 percent every game. They are our leaders and that’s what we need from all of our players,” Docherty said. “We have a lot of guys coming in that can make a difference, and we’re not going to rely on just one line.”

With more than half of the active roster consisting of returning players, the role of the veterans is key to having a productive season.

“The leadership is huge because we have a solid group of guys that have played two and three years,” Lyons said. “They know what it takes to win at this level.”

Although some believe experience is key to winning championships, UK adds depth to its roster with the arrival of several skilled players.

“We have a really talented group of new players this year such as Tony Woodward, Sean McLaughlin and Jeremy Schmidt,” Lyons said. “They have all played at a high level, and bringing that experience to our team will really help us.”

The schedule is set, and final roster moves are under way. With the season starting Friday at midnight, Docherty already has his mind set on one thing: that the Cool Cats make it to nationals and come back as champions.

“I plan on winning the championship,” Docherty said. “We went to nationals three years ago, which let people know we are a top-10 team even though we’re from Kentucky. I want to play the whole season like it’s one and done.”