From The University Daily Kansan
By Gabe Daniel
After a dominant weekend series resulting in a sweep over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Kansas ice hockey club has clinched a spot in the MACHA conference playoffs for the first time since the 2019-20 season.
This series wasn’t only a playoff-clincher, but it was also the first set of games the team had competed in since Nov. 11, when the Jayhawks fell to Washington University-St. Louis, 6-0. Junior defenseman and team captain Caleb Dusseau wanted to come out ready heading into the series.
“I wouldn’t say it was more knocking off the rust, I would say it was more come out ready to go and just work hard every single shift. Give it 110% and the rust will come off naturally,” Dusseau said. “We don’t want to leave anything on the ice, we want to show that we’re here to play this semester.”
The team had some added motivation, as it was simply a “win and you’re in” situation for Friday’s matchup, as the game counted towards conference play. However, clinching that playoff spot wasn’t the only focus.
“Heading into this weekend, we knew that we had the opportunity to clinch but we didn’t want that to be the main focus,” Dusseau said. “We really just wanted to keep our minds right. Have everyone relaxed and not put so much pressure on ourselves to win that game and just play our game and we ended up coming out on top.”
Kansas had an explosive first period, as the Jayhawks opened up the game up scoring six goals.
“We had a very fast start, and we didn’t let up. So, it was crucial for us going into that game to come out hot knowing that we hadn’t been on the ice as a team in a while, besides a practice or two,” Dusseau said. “It was important for us to come out, guns blazing, as fast as we could and put a couple in before we started to get tired from [not] being on the ice in a while. We knew how important it was to get to get the first couple of goals and ride it out from there, and we ended up getting six so and that was enough to to eventually win the game.”
The Jayhawks would add two more throughout the game, despite Nebraska adding three goals, to secure the win, 8-3.
After the game, the team got confirmation that the win had clinched its berth in the playoffs.
“After we knew that we clinched playoffs … we knew that we could use the opportunity on Saturday to get better,” Dusseau said. “Keep working on the little things, and since we don’t have too much ice time between now and playoffs, it’s going to be important for us to use every second on the ice that we can. So, we want to win games for sure, and we also want to work on anything that we might want to tweak before for the big games coming around.”
That momentum carried through as the Jayhawks won 5-3 on Saturday, completing the season sweep over the Cornhuskers.
Kansas currently sits at 12-6-0 on the season, with a 6-2-0 record in conference play. The Jayhawks have one last series against the Omaha Mavericks (ACHA M3), who clinched the last wild card spot in the playoffs.
“I think the biggest key is not letting up at all, knowing that we already are in playoffs. We can’t slow down at all,” Dusseau said. “We need to keep working 100%. Now knowing that they’re in the playoffs too, it’ll make that competition that much more exciting, that much harder. It’d be good going into this weekend knowing that we could potentially play this team in playoffs.”
Puck-drop for Friday’s game is set for 9:30 p.m., and then 10 a.m. on Saturday from Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.
(Originally published at https://www.kansan.com/sports/kansas-club-hockey-barrels-through-nebraska-clinches-conference-playoff-spot/article_a89fa6f8-becd-11ee-945c-93330f2b2216.html)