From The Maneater
By Riley Gearhart
The Border Showdown is back.
After days of speculation and Twitter feuds, the Missouri and Kansas club hockey teams agreed on a home-and-home series that will take place later this season. The Tigers will host the first game Feb. 18 then travel to Shawnee, Kansas, on March 4 for the second.
The Jayhawks and Tigers had planned to play the Border Showdown at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, Missouri, on Feb. 24, but a sponsor issue led to Kansas backing out, leaving both programs without their highly-anticipated rivalry game.
With hopes of a potential showdown still taking place, Missouri club hockey president Holden Carroll spoke with Kansas to explore the possibilities that remained.
“We were supposed to be the home team at the Border War in [Independence], and so we thought that we could host it this year,” Carroll said. “They didn’t want to come to us and play. So, for the sake of still playing the game, we agreed to go to them.”
However, as details were being finalized, Kansas posted a press release on Twitter and began selling tickets to the public. By the time families of Missouri players went online to secure their tickets, none remained. The Border Showdown had sold out in less than an hour.
“Obviously, that was a big deal,” Carroll said. “We were kind of at the point where we didn’t know if we even wanted to play anymore because it seemed like we weren’t on the same page.”
After trying once more, this time for a home-and-home series, Carroll tweeted a press release of his own.
“[The release] explained the situation and [that] we were probably not going to play, but we hadn’t decided yet,” Carroll said. “Then, it blew up.”
The release, which was posted Feb. 8, immediately gained exposure and views from those associated with Missouri, including former Missouri women’s basketball star Sophie Cunningham, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Missouri athletics writer Dave Matter and KOMU Sports Director Ben Arnet.
With hundreds of Tigers fans showing their support, the post eclipsed over 500 likes, 80 quote tweets and totaled 100 comments. This overwhelming and unexpected encouragement led to a phone call from Kansas club hockey head coach Andy McConnell.
“[McConnell] took the lead with getting this home-and-home series hammered out,” Carroll said. “He was nothing but respectful, wanted to get the game done and come play us in our rink.”
After the phone call and a wild 48 hours, Missouri posted an update Feb. 10 announcing that the Border Showdown was back on and slated for a home-and-home series. The support from fans, especially for a club sport, played a large part in the final decision.
“We were very happy to see the support from Missouri fans,” Carroll said. “It’s something that we had not ever gotten up until this point. Their support online is why we are able to play this game at home.”
The Tigers will host the Jayhawks at Washington Park Ice Arena in Jefferson City. For Missouri, this is home, but Carroll and several Twitter supporters explained their dream to one day have an ice rink on campus.
“An ice rink in Columbia would be unimaginable right now,” Carroll said. “It would make a world of difference. The No. 1 [downside] with this team is that there is no rink in Columbia and they don’t want to drive to Jefferson City.”
While this problem may not be solved some time, there is optimism that with continued support and a rising interest in hockey, changes could be made in the future. In the meantime, however, the Tigers are focusing on renewing their rivalry against the Jayhawks after their season was canceled last year.
Carroll and Missouri will have two opportunities to earn the coveted rivalry win: Feb. 18 at 9:30 p.m. in Jefferson City and March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Shawnee, Kansas. The Border Showdown will go down as one to remember because of the rivalry that ensued before either team touched the ice.
(Originally published at https://themaneater.com/missouri-club-hockeys-border-showdown-with-kansas-is-back/)