Tomorrow night at midnight, the University of Kentucky Hockey Club will start its 2018-2019 season at the Lexington Ice Center against the Akron Zips. UK returns a lot of fire power off last year’s team, and will mix in 12 new players to the club.
Last season the team finished 20-9-1 and ranked 24th in the ACHA Southeast division. There is a lot of talent returning, and in the freshman class, to make a push for a Regional Invite at the end of the season. Let’s take a minute to look at some of the returning players at each position group that will be looked on to lead the team:
The forwards will look to build off last season’s offensive numbers and forecheck pressure.
The team returns last year’s second leading scorer, Jordan Shannon, who had 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) last season. He will be looked upon to keep up that offensive fire power. New team captain, Jimmy Kasch, will bring back 30 points (17g, 13a). The team will look to him to be the vocal and physical leader on the ice this season. Blake Riley, who scored 20 points (6g, 14a), is a player that can take a step up to have a bigger scoring roll this season.
This unit took a huge step up, production-wise, last season. The coaching staff’s new system allowed the defensemen to push up in the offensive zone and join in on the rush. This unit can continue the upward trend this season.
Ryan Duffy returns this season, and brings 31 points (12g, 19a) with him from last year. He will be one of the main defensemen pushing up in the offensive zone. Max Boss, 11pts (3g, 8a), is the rock of the group. A very solid defensive defenseman, who has the goalies covered and keeps shots off them. He is a lead by example player. Matt Pakkala is the player I think takes a step forward this season. He had 10 points (1g, 9a) last season, but has the ability to bring those numbers up this season.
The team is lucky in returning two goalies that improved last season, upping their save percentages and cutting their goals against averages.
Jeff Ison went 10-4 last season with a 3.34 goals against average. Eric Williams posted a 6-3 record with a 3.36 goals against average. Both players can be called on to win games and will be a great one two punch for this coming season. I think both will improve again this year and have solid numbers at season’s end.
If the team can keep continuing to improve over the course of the season, have the 12 new players gel with the returning, and not carry over the second period lull they hit here and there last year, the team could have a very special year.
The team starts the season Friday night at the Lexington Ice Center. They will play the Akron Zips, who are coming off a 7-24-1 season. The team is in a rebuild stage but returns a core group of players, including last season’s leading scorer, Zach Lawson. They will be out looking to prove they are an improved team and bring the fight to UK from the puck drop.
You can also meet UK Hockey schedule poster model Kindly Myers before and at the game. She will be signing the posters before the game, or you can meet her at Bar Louie at the Fayette Mall from 7:30pm to 9:30pm before the game. So be sure to get your poster signed.
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*Pictures used with permission from UK Hockey*