Returning Players That Could Take A Step Forward This Season for UK Hockey

Last Season Coach Tim Pergram and staff took over a UK team that only won three games the season before. The team was needing a boost, and with the new staff, they got that. Their first Freshman class, and core group of returning players, responded to the staff’s new system and ended the season with a 20-9-1-1 record. Good for a 22nd place ranking in the ACHA’s Southeast Division at seasons end.

When speaking to assistant coach Clay Pergram and asking about returning players he had this to say:

“ The players know nothing is promised going into tryouts. We had a good season last year, but we are back to 0-0-0, and have to prove ourselves worthy of a ACHA Division Regional spot.”

So players that were on last year’s team have to come back hungry and ready to keep their spot on the ice. I for one love this, the guys that want it the most will be out there and fighting for that Regional birth.

For this post, we will be focusing on players that are returning that could step up to be the new leaders, and who could possibly take that step up to be the core group on the team. The staff will be looking to replace last year’s vocal leader, and Taylor Vit Leadership Award winner, Cory Day. Along with last year’s leading scorer, Beck Schultz, who had 71 points last season. That was 10th best in the ACHA Southeast Division. Both players have since graduated, and left big shoes to fill. Here are some players that could fill those roles on this up coming team.

Leadership:

Talking to Coach Clay, there were a few names thrown out that could be the leaders on this year’s team. Two I really found interesting were two Seniors, forward Jimmy Kasch and defenseman Max Boss.

Jimmy finished last season with 30 points (17 goals and 13 assist), and has a big personality. Not only will he be a Senior, he has the talent to back up what he is saying. Jimmy could be one that develops into a vocal leader this season.

Max is a very good defenseman. Being more of a stay at home defenseman isn’t as glamorous as one that jumps up in the rush, but I would say that the goalies love having a guy like him on the ice. Last season Max made an amazing play in a game against Vanderbilt, diving and breaking up a shot attempt at the end of the 2nd period. Max is a lead-by-example kind of guy and I think many will follow his example.

Players that could take a step up on the ice:

There are a few players that have the ability to take that step this season. One being the returning player with the most points from last year, Jordan Shannon.

As a Freshman, Jordan scored 61 points (29 goals and 32 assists), good for 26th in scoring for the Southeast Division. Jordan has an amazing first step, and is quite fast. With a year in Coach Pergram’s system already, he could take that step up to the 70 point range.

Jimmy Kasch had 30 points (17 goals alongside 13 assists) last season and will have a bigger role this year. His numbers could go up significantly in his Senior season. He will also be looked on to be a leader this season.

Ryan Duffy put up 31 points (12 goals and a solid 19 assists) in his Freshman campaign, as a defenseman. Duffy is a solid player that has plenty of room to grow and get better. Plus, he isn’t shy about jumping up in the offensive zone, which is a good thing since he can be a threat.

Blake Riley has a 20 points (6 goals and 14 assists) during his Freshman year. Blake has all the skills you need to take a big step up from year one to two. He could be a very solid scorer for this team.

Jeff Ison had a very solid season last year in net going 10-4 with a 3.34 goals against average, and a .904 save percentage. His numbers were up across the board. Coming off an All-SECHC Team year, and he could be “The backbone of the team if he starts off hot” per Coach Clay.

Eric Williams also had a solid year at goalie. He posted a 6-3 record with a 3.36 goals against average with a .869 save percentage. Eric is very vocal when on the bench, but he’s someone that could come back this year and have a huge roll on the team.

Brandon Spindlow was a Second Semester addition to the team. He played in 9 games, but posted 8 points (an even 4 goals and 4 assists). He, like the others on this list, have the tools to be big time players on this year’s team. He will be looked upon to bring some scoring.

Patrick Lehmann was also a Second Semester addition. In his 9 games he posted 9 points (5 goals and 4 assists) and is a big presence in front of the net in the offensive zone. At 6’4, he is perfect for screening the opposing goalie, getting deflection and rebound goals. He is also really good out in the zone. His numbers will go up, but I’m looking to see him use his body more. If he gets to laying checks on the other team, they will be hurting.

There will be another solid group of Freshman coming in, and I will do a post on those players once the team is finalized closer to the season. If this group can produce like last year’s Freshman class, and the returning players come back hungry, this coming years team could be looking at that ACHA Southeast Regional spot.

You can follow me on Twitter @RobUKFAD

Picture used with permission from UK Hockey

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