UK Hockey: A lasting legacy defying the rules of time
UK Hockey team will take the rink on Friday, for ACHA Nationals
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — Some say there is never enough time for anything, but for UK Hockey fans and former players, the traditions and the memories have survived through the decades and remain more alive than ever.
“Being a club sport and being a sport that is not native to a place like Kentucky, you can imagine what it was, like 40 years ago,” says former “cool cat” and former general manager, Mark Shupe.
It’s a sport that remains hotter than the rink they play in, “I believe that being a club sport is our destiny. The players and the coaches control their destiny as opposed to being part of the athletic department,” also says Shupe, of the team remaining a club sport since its inception.
As the memories and traditions remain frozen in time, “how we went from being, you know, arguably the worst college club team in the country to the national championships eight years later. And it’s just thrilling to see the success of the program has continued the way it has,” he adds.
Since its inception almost 40 years ago, the UK hockey team has garnered success and more than anything support from the community.
“We had to practice in Cincinnati during the summer and fall of 1983 or 84, I should say. Because the ice center did not have a an occupancy permit, there was no ice. And at the time, we played our games on Friday and Saturday night I think at 7- 7:30pm. It was being supported, fully supported by the Lexington Ice Center,” says Shupe.
But the Lexington Ice Center began going through a difficult time, that forced the team to think of moving the time of their games or risk not playing at all.
“We decided that you we had to promote club hockey at Kentucky at midnight. I think that began in the third season. But it turned out to be the best thing that could have possibly happened to us playing at midnight and promoting the midnight games,” he also adds.
And thus began the tradition of ‘midnight mayhem,’ a tradition that continues to this day.
The current team is slated to take the rink on Friday in the ACHA National Championships as traditions continue coming full circle.
“It’s organic. I mean it. It’s a club team. People are there because they want to be there,” said Shupe.