The University of Kentucky Hockey Cats told the public yesterday via Twitter that they will no longer be competing in the SEC next season. They will become an independent team in the ACHC Division 2, which is the clubs version of the NCAA.
The Cats are still moving forward as head coach Tim Pergram has revitalized the program. Kentucky went 20-9-1 in the regular season with wins over Georgia and Duke, also going 6-0 in the SECHC conference. As this is a slight setback, the Cats are still headed in the right direction with Pergram as the new head coach.
So what does this mean for the program?
Well, it’s simple. The Cats will not have a conference tournament to look forward to but are still very capable of receiving an at-large bid to the big dance, the ACHA Division 2 Tournament. The team will be like Notre Dame in football. And even though they won’t technically still be in the SEC, they will have the opportunity to play SEC schools in the regular season on occasion.
Here is the press release the staff sent out regarding the issue:
University of Kentucky
Ice Hockey Team
On May 1st, Kentucky Hockey received an email from Commissioner Jay Peacock of the ACHA D2. This email stated that UK would not be allowed to remain a D2 team and continue to play in the SECHC. This is due to the fact that the SECHC is a D3 league and UK is a D2 team. We had the option of becoming a D3 team or leaving the SECHC. The decision was made to remain a D2 team with the ACHA and withdraw from the SECHE. This decision is due in part to our geographic location. There are many Cmore D2 teams located near Lexington which keeps the travel costs down for the team. UK was asked to join the SECHC last season with the understanding that we would remain a D2 team and play the requires 6 games against SECHC teams. Once we were notified on May 1st that we could no longer participate in a D3 league, we responded back to the commissioner that our intentions were to remain a D2 team. UK has been a member of the AHCA D2 as an independent for many years. We will remain in the ACHA’s southern division and plan on contending for a birth at Nationals this season.
For fans that loved the SEC Tournament last year and the solid conference slate during the regular season, this is an obvious blow. That being said, after gaining solid momentum last year and a growing fanbase, the Hockey Cats should be able to recover in a big way.
One step back, two steps forward.