It’s been a huge season already for the Kansas Jayhawks hockey team, coached by former player (and former podcast guest) Andy McConnell. They finished as the #1 team in the Pacific region of the American Club Hockey Association Division III standings, with multiple players honored.
The National Tournament started on March 26th with pool play, which works as follows (info pulled from the tournament website).
16 teams are invited to the tournament, with the top 2 teams from each of the 4 regions automatically qualifying. Teams 3-10 are seeded into a single elimination Regionals tournament, where the top 2 finishers advance to nationals. The 4 qualifiers from each region are divided into 4 pools. This year, the teams are as follows:
ACHA Division 3 Pools
|Florida Gulf Coast
|Air Force Academy
|Grand Valley State
Each team plays round-robin in their pool, with the top finisher in each pool advancing to the semifinals. Wins count for two points and ties count for one.
KU won their first two games in convincing fashion, with a 6-3 win against Oakland and a 7-2 win against Tampa. Tonight, in the final game of pool play at 7:30pm, Kansas faces Fairfield, a team that also won both of their first two games. The winner will win the pool and advance to tomorrow’s semifinals.
This Kansas team is an elite offensive force this year, led by Dane Johnson (38 Goals, 30 Assists) and Dawson Engle (28 Goals, 34 Assists). The entire team has scored 143 goals in 21 games (an average of 6.8 goals per game), with multiple players breaking out at various points in the season.
But as good as they are offensively, they are probably better defensively, only allowing 48 goals all year long. Goalie Ben Smith played in 16 games during the regular season with a Goals Allowed Average of 1.96 and a .937 Save %, which ranks 5th and 2nd respectively in Divison 3.
Fairfield is known for their defense, but looking through their schedule, I’m not sure that they have played a team with as much firepower as the Jayhawks. I like this team’s chances to win tonight and move on to the next round.
If you are in the Plano, TX area, games are being played at the Children’s Health StarCenter.
For those not able to attend, you can watch the live stream of all the games here:
Good luck to our Jayhawks tonight! ROCK CHALK!