From The University Daily Kansan
By Gabe Daniel
For many students at the University of Kansas, the Kansas Ice Hockey Club does not come to mind as one of the premier sports on campus.
And for a lot of the players on the club, the thought hurts, as they put in hours upon hours perfecting their craft — just like any other student-athlete would. Max Brown, a senior defenseman from St. Louis, Missouri, wishes the club had more recognition around campus.
“It’s crazy the amount of hours people spend on this,” Brown said. “Just for the university to really recognize us, that would be amazing.”
The Kansas Ice Hockey Club came to KU in the 2000s, but in 2011 it disbanded after falling into significant debt. However, in 2015 the club returned to the ice and has since been arguably the best club team at Kansas.
KU ice hockey club competes as a Division III program in the American Collegiate Hockey Association and they play against neighboring university club teams such as Arkansas, Creighton, Dordt, Iowa State, Missouri, Missouri State, and Nebraska. And although the Jayhawks do not compete in Lawrence, they are close to home at the Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, Missouri.
Without the unwavering support from coaches, families and student-athletes alike, club sports such as hockey would not exist due to the lack of resources and financial support that programs within the athletics department receive.
“Big shoutout to Andrew Cadle and Erin Cole, our former president, they kept this thing alive,” said Kansas ice hockey coach Andy McConnell. “They busted their butts off for the last year, and I think they deserve all the credit for whatever is going to happen this season. I think it’s going to be something special.”
Heading into this year, there’s been many changes within the roster. However, McConnell is eager to get behind the bench with high hopes.
“We’ve got a good team and I’m excited to see what they can do,” McConnell said. “Even the chemistry is really solid already — sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes it takes games.”
Having qualified for nationals the past two seasons, Brown is looking toward being there once again.
“My first two years of playing here we went to nationals, so for the third year I want to go back to that and get a chance to redeem ourselves,” Brown said.
Before COVID-19 soiled the team’s plans to head to nationals, the Jayhawks built up a hot streak. On March 7, 2020, days before the pandemic canceled future plans, KU defeated the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 12-4, the team’s last time on the ice.
Now, returning after a dormant year, McConnell is ready to see how the season plays out. “We haven’t really had any challenges, if anything it would be the late start and seeing how the season is going to roll,” he said.
Only six players from the 2019-20 roster return to this year’s team, highlighted by four seniors: forward Steven Siavelis and defensemen Max Brown, Connor Morgan and Aidan Pearson. The team welcomes 13 newcomers made up of freshmen and sophomores.
“We have a totally new group of guys, so it’s going to be really exciting to see what the team is like,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of freshmen, so I’m excited to see what they’re gonna bring and see what guys are stepping up.”
Kansas opens their season Friday against the Creighton Bluejays at 7:15 p.m. in Omaha, Nebraska.
(Originally published at https://www.kansan.com/sports/kansas-ice-hockey-club-looks-forward-to-first-game-in-over-a-year/article_c9becd72-11d3-11ec-a3ab-130c08204b10.html)