Last night the University of Kentucky Hockey Club got their 2018-2019 season started off in a big way, beating the visiting Akron Zips 8-1.
It was a great atmosphere, the crowd was ready. UK Hockey schedule poster model Kindly Myers was there signing, and also did the ceremonial opening puck drop. But most importantly, the team was ready.
UK, mixing in a lot of new players with the returning veterans, came out pressing from the start. This team is fast, physical, and moves the puck very well. They hit Akron early and often. It seemed that the Cats got every loose puck during the game.
In the first, the Wildcats out shot Akron 19-4, with Ryan Duffy getting the first goal of the season for UK off an assist from Gary Eastlack. Even with all those shots, Akron’s goalie held strong and only gave up the one goal in the first period.
In the second UK came out fast again. In second period last season the team would seem to stall at times, not this game. Max Proctor gave the Cats a 2-0 lead off assists by Ryan Huesman and Jake Deemer. Akron would answer back with a rebound goal for there lone score of the night, making it 2-1 UK. Penalties started hitting the Cats, but it wouldn’t slow down the attack. JR Poole scored a short handed goal with the assist going to Max Proctor. A few minutes later, Proctor would score another short handed goal, his second goal of the game, off an assist from Jake Patneau. The Wildcats would go into the second intermission up 4-1.
As third started, you could see how the speed and physicality of this UK team had taken a toll on Akron. The Cats would capitalize on it and not let up the attack. Zach Bartuce would make it 5-1 off an assist from Mike DeAngelis. Ryan Huesman made it 6-1 with assists going to the captain, Jimmy Kasch, and Mikey Liszka. The Cats would make the most of a power play opportunity when Griffin Stulman would score off a Ryan Duffy assist and go up 7-1. The final score of the night was a third short handed goal of the game for UK. Mikey Liszka would score off Jimmy Kasch’s second assist of the night.
Minus a little early season jitters and penalties, UK came out and showed they are ready to take another step forward and build off last season’s big turnaround. The vets played very well. Jeff Ison got the start in net and only gave up a goal and played a great game. The new players to the team contributed with 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists). Special teams came up huge with 4 goals, 3 came short handed with the team on the penalty kill.
There is a lot of good in this game, and some correctable things as well for the team to learn and continue to grow from.
Game two against Akron is tonight at midnight at the Lexington Ice Center. Be there early, and be there LOUD.
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