Cool Cats close home slate with 12-3 over EKU

Adam Wolffbrandt

By Chandler Howard

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Cool Cat fans presented a standing ovation for one team prior to the hockey game on Saturday evening, but that team wasn’t UK.

The Cats’ supposed adversary, Life University, was a no-show for the weekend’s matches. The reason for their absence is still unknown. Eastern Kentucky University was able to step in for Saturday’s game, which provided the opportunity for UK to play its concluding home competition. The team ended its season with a decisive 12-3 victory over the Colonels.

“We still focused on the same aspects of our game,” UK head coach Rob Docherty said. “(EKU) is similar to the team we had prepared for so it did not disrupt our game. This still helps to build our confidence going into the regional competition.”

At the end of the first period, UK found itself knotted 2-2 with a team it had triumphed over 10-1 earlier in the season.

“We were moving the puck around so well that we were forgetting to shoot it,” Docherty said. “Not all shots have to be pretty but we just needed to take more of them.”

A stifling defense and two goals by freshman Dylan Rohar in the second period helped UK build a 6-2 lead in and the Cats outscored the Colonels 6-1 in the final period to slam the door shut on the opposition.

The Cool Cats’ 12 goals came from eight different players, precisely the kind of production Docherty said the team is looking for. Sophomore defenseman Hunter Lyons provided a hat trick for UK.

“We saw certain holes in their defense that we were able to take advantage of,” Lyons said. “It certainly helps to be in the right spot at the right time, too.”

On senior night, the puck dropped at midnight for the final time for four Cool Cats at the Lexington Ice Center. The notable list of seniors include club president and forward Daniel Ampleford, defenseman Alex Robinson, forward Nick Skuraton and defenseman Sean Riopelle. The graduating group convened on the ice at the conclusion of the game, allowing time for families and friends to capture any last pictures of the four athletes on their home ice.

“It hasn’t really set in for me yet,” said Ampleford, who missed much of the season with a broken collarbone. “The past five years of my life have been spent here and it just doesn’t feel real right now.”

With final rankings now released, UK looks ahead, seeded sixth, going into the ACHA Southeast Regional competition. The team will be facing No. 7 seed Liberty University in Wooster, Ohio on Feb. 27 at 7:45 p.m.

“We are not going to stray from what we have been doing this year,” Lyons said. “We have been hot all season but we just need to make sure the right team shows up to play.”