EKU hockey season coming to a close

The Eastern Kentucky University hockey team lines up before a game in Lexington last season. The hockey team concludes the 2019-20 season on Feb. 21 and 22 against Mississippi State.

The Eastern Kentucky University hockey team is coming down to their last few games of the 2019-20 season and looking to finish the season strong.

Currently, the hockey team is 9-7-1 on the season.

The hockey team will wrap up the season at home Feb. 21 and 22 when Mississippi State travels to Lexington to face the Colonels.

Mississippi State has been struggling this season, but Cormier and his players are not overlooking them.

“I expect us to go out pretty well, but you have to be careful what you say,” Cormier said about the Mississippi St. games. “They’ve had a challenge this year. They’ve been in some pretty tough situations like losing by a lot of goals this year.”

This year’s squad is composed of 16 players and a wide variety of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Cormier said the team once again had 10 players from out of state and not on scholarship.

Cormier has been hitting the recruiting trail and has six players committed to EKU so far, even though they are not giving out scholarships for the upcoming season.

The Colonels usually face rival, University of Kentucky every season for the Bourbon Barrel trophy.

This season UK decided not to play EKU.

“They wanted to work on rankings,” Cormier said. “They did offer to play us midway through the year but that was when there was a weekend we had six injuries and we literally just got through the heaviest part of the schedule and the boys were getting ready for homecoming.”

Cormier is currently working to schedule next year’s opponents.

“When the schedule is made, which is right now for next season, we’ll see what they decide... whether we play them or not, I know it’s an important rivalry,” Cormier said.

“They didn’t want to play us anymore,” fifth year hockey player Cristian Purdom said. Even without UK on the schedule this season, the EKU hockey team has faced tough competition. They started the season against the University of Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State and Vanderbilt University. They fell to the University of Tennessee, but were able to bounce back and split the series with Middle Tennessee St.

“It was kind of a refocus year,” Cormier said. “Our schedule was maybe as tough, but at the same time we had to go play the games and we’re going to finish above .500 this year.”

If the team is about to finish above .500 this season, this will be the fourth winning season in the last five years.

“In other years, I’ve said ‘I can’t wait for the season to end’ but I’ve actually really enjoyed this season. We’re a good group this year,” Cormier said.

“This group has kept me going,” Cormier said.

Cormier said that this season was about getting things back to the way they wanted which includes a winning season and good attitudes.

Purdom and Cormier credited the team chemistry and the reestablishment of their culture for their success this season.

“There are so many ways to define family and it’s the word used by a lot of sports teams and it has become that way again,” Cormier said. “It’s the little things like the guys looking out for each other all the time and not just on the ice but those things that were established. When you say family, to me, it says you are my teammate, my best friend, I got your back and really we got that culture back.”

“It’s the matter now to just get things ready for next year,” Cormier said.

The hockey team concludes the season on Feb. 21 and 22 against Mississippi St. at the Lexington ice center. Students can attend the games for $5 with a student ID and $7 without.

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