Cool Cats attempt to fill spot between the pipes

By BW Jones

There are only six feet in between the pipes of a hockey goal, however the Cool Cats have been facing a challenge to fill that space.

With the graduation of goalies Drew Matichak and Nathan Lyons, and the loss of junior Devon Lent following the 2007-08 season, the UK hockey team was left without a single returning goalie on its roster.

“It’s going to be tough to fill their shoes,” Captain Andrew Serres said.

Senior forward Chris Protenic said the goalies last season offered comfort and security to the team, especially on tough nights.

“They were both great goalies, and great leaders,” Protenic said.

The Cool Cats have three new goalies on the roster this season, and head coach Rob Docherty has yet to decide who will be the main netminder this season. Freshman Matt Bougie started Friday’s season opener, a 12-9 loss to Central Michigan, and sophomore Jim Borgaard started Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Chippewa’s. Freshman Chris Champine was unavailable to play this weekend, but Docherty plans to see him in action very soon.

“Matt didn’t have a defense in front of him Friday. He was a little nervous, and I expected that. I certainly don’t count Matt out,” Docherty said. “I knew Jim had more experience, and he looked more comfortable out there. Chris has looked real good in practice, and we’ll see what he can do soon. They’ll all get their shot and we’ll see what happens.”

Borgaard, the only goalie on the roster with previous college hockey experience, transferred to UK after playing his freshman season at Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich. He decided to play for the Bulldogs following his senior year of high school, but wasn’t happy after the coaches who recruited him were released or with the financial problems of the hockey program there.

While traveling with the Ferris State team during his freshman year, Borgaard got his first taste of UK.

“I was impressed with what I saw when we played UK,” Borgaard said. “I loved the crowd and loved the atmosphere of the school.”

Borgaard took a leap of faith, transferring to UK with no guarantee of even making the hockey team. The closeness of the Cool Cats made the transition easier for the goalie.

“I really love the chemistry of this team,” Borgaard said. “It’s just different than most of the other teams I’ve played for, where the team might be divided into three or four groups. Here, we’re so close it’s almost like we’re brothers.”

Despite the superb play of Borgaard in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Central Michigan, the goalie position remains up for grabs. Docherty said he will likely give Champine and Borgaard one start each this weekend as the Cool Cats travel to Lindenwood University.

“Goaltending is a different position,” Docherty explained. “Once one gets hot, I’ve got to stick with him. You’ve got to find the one that wins you hockey games.”