The Kansas Jayhawks earned another win against the league-leading Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday, November 3rd, but dropped one to even out the series the following afternoon. A powerful start on Friday night, despite a Nebraska goal, helped the home team find their rhythm into the game.
The Huskers gave KU more of a challenge than usual with their amped-up defense, resulting in a “tennis match” over the blue lines for the two teams. The Jayhawks pushed for several rushes towards the enemy net and added some board action to enable more shots until 2 goals from #25 Dawson Engle prevailed in the second period. Slap shots and physicality remained consistent factors throughout the game, giving both teams their points, with #19 Reece Doty giving the home bench satisfaction as he lifted them up 3-2 towards the end of the second. To welcome the third period, #3 Brandon Burgess scored in the first 2 minutes, and goalie #1 Ben Smith paired it with strong saves in the Kansas zone. Penalties and commotion gave the Huskers one more goal until #9 Logan Haverstrom (assisted by #28 Johan Steen) lit the lamp for a 5-3 lead. With force, faith, and an empty Nebraska net, #22 Miles Manson settled the game at 6-3, and the Jayhawks drove back to Lawrence with another Friday night win.
For Game 2 on Saturday afternoon, the Kansas linemates started off with their usual speed and pressure on the opposition, giving the Nebraska goal some anxiety, but drew several penalties in exchange. Solid defensive plays and puck-stealing led to scuffles throughout the course of the periods, with the two benches showing significantly more passion and desperation for the final weekend match. The Huskers scored 2 goals towards the end of the first period, eliciting harder skating and force from the Jayhawks into the remainder of the game. A home goal prevailed when #2 Jeff Anderson shot one in, but more scrambling and slamming let another Nebraska slap shot through the home pipes. A major penalty was sentenced to each team in the second period, proving the intense atmosphere of the amplified emotion and power elicited from the players. Back-and-forth plays eventually subsided with a goal from #19 Reece Doty but was answered with one from the Huskers, making it 6-2. The third period exhibited, even more, force and feistiness from the Jayhawks, who took multiple shots on the opposing goal without any further success, concluding with the earlier score and shared weekend victory with the Cornhuskers.
“We started out strong, but penalties were a huge factor and we took ourselves out mentally from the game. We need to focus on getting the puck in deep, outworking them, and playing our kind of hockey,” Head Coach Andy McConnell said. “This is a character-building game, it takes more than hard work and skill, you have to be mentally prepared to finish it. But I’m really proud of this team we have, Nebraska is probably top in the league right now and we’re right up there with them.”