Mizzou-Kansas rivalry re-established on ice

Over the weekend, it seemed like the Boston Bruins were playing the New York Rangers at Jefferson City’s Washington Park Ice Arena. Goals were scored often, skaters brought physical energy and the fans cheered loudly throughout the battle between the yellow and blue jerseys.

Instead, the pair of games that took place was of a different rivalry that has become ancient history to Missouri fans in recent years. The Tigers’ club hockey team hosted the Kansas Jayhawks last Friday and Saturday evening, and won both games.

“I think the rivalry is fantastic,” Missouri coach Todd Barclay said. “I know the fans love it, and it makes it that much easier for a team to get up and play.”

The origins of the sports rivalry date back to 1891, when Mizzou and Kansas were united through the Western Interstate University Football Association. After sticking together through twelve decades and six conference changes, Mizzou moved to the Southeastern Conference in 2012, ultimately signaling the dormancy of the rivalry.

“It’s a shame that as a school we no longer get to play KU, because that was such a big rivalry with a strong history,” forward Chase Haller said. “Knowing that hockey is one of the only teams that gets to play them now just means we have to make sure we get the wins and show our superiority as a school.”

Prior to this weekend, Kansas had only kept connections with Mizzou through Quidditch. Kansas has not been able to string a club hockey team together since 2011, but Mizzou welcomed the Jayhawks back by beating Kansas twice, giving the Tigers’ hockey team victories in 39 of its last 40 rival matchups.

“The rivalry gives players the motivation to play hard and win,” forward Nate Meyer said. “It creates a great atmosphere for the fans to watch hockey and the emotions really run high for the team.”

Barclay said the team did not prepare for these games any differently than it did other opponents throughout the year. Even though Mizzou may have looked dominating in 7-4 and 15-1 wins over KU, the team continued to compete and show avid respect for this traditional rivalry until the final buzzer.

“We didn’t have any expectations that were different (against KU) because we try to approach every weekend with the standpoint that a win is a win,” Barclay said. “Rivalries like this make it a little bit easier to play with a little bit of heart and good work ethic, so we just came out and played like we normally do.”

Despite the large hype around this series, Meyer and Haller both agreed it could create some added distractions. Mizzou club hockey had not won a game in 2014 coming into the series, making Friday’s come-from-behind victory more meaningful beyond the rivalry.

“As a coach, when you get a team down, you always like to see us finish them,” Barclay said. “I wouldn’t say it was the intensity that I would’ve liked, but it shows a little bit of heart, a little bit of scrap to hold onto these wins.”

Barclay said that the rivalry “is good all around for hockey in Missouri and Kansas.”

Mizzou club hockey will have another opportunity to restore tradition with the Jayhawks when it travels to Kansas after winter break.

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