Ice Hockey – Match Report & Highlights

19th February 2010

The Trent FM Arena in Nottingham played host again to Varsity Ice Hockey, the sixth of its kind and the largest Varsity outside of America. After Uni’s dominance in last year’s 6-1 victory, was this year going to be the year of Trent’s revival?


A sell-out once again reflected the anticipation surrounding the event. Just glancing down the team sheet, Trent had to be the favourites “due to their strength in depth” (Adam Occleshaw – URN analyst) but Uni “have the heart & that can make the difference!” (Ali Hill – URN commentator). The crowd built up steadily ahead of a 7:45 start, the players were introduced to the crowd and the National Anthem played and we were ready for face off.

Trent lost the face-off but had the better of possession and territory in the early stages and had the first shot on goal, which was saved by Uni’s goaltender Mervyn Tasker. A two-minute penalty against Trent’s, Anthony D’Aversa resulted in the momentum switching in University’s favour but they could not take advantage of the power play (when one team has more players on the ice than the other) and it remained scoreless.

After the two minutes elapsed and Trent were back to their full quota, they again had the better of the play, this resulted in the first goal of the evening, which was scored by Trent’s James Wood, a player who was making his Varsity debut. The puck found its way to him about a yard from goal and he slotted it home past Mervyn Tasker to give Trent an early advantage. Trent then went in search of a second and were in control of the puck and Tasker had to save on a number of occasions to keep the score at just 1-0.

Trent’s lack of discipline was also evident in the amount of penalties they were conceding but University could not take advantage and failed to score in any power play within the first period.However University’s Mike Davie reacted quickest to a rebound off the Trent keeper and the score was level at 1-1. This witnessed a shift in the momentum and ended up with University scoring a second through Tom Griffiths. A lack of discipline then cost University dear as 6 seconds into a power play Trent got an equaliser through Paul Moran, a player that had been highlighted before the match as a danger man. Trent then took a well-deserved lead of 3-2 into the break with Lee Hayward scoring one minute before the end of the period.

The interval gave the players a much-earned break with the first period being played out at a ferocious tempo. The crowd were treated to a game of mini ice hockey with the Nottingham U10’s team showing us their skills.
Nottingham U10’s team interview:

The second period started in quiet fashion with Trent having the upper hand but were not attacking with as much purpose as in the opening period. Again University had the advantage of a power play but could not make it count with them failing to add to the score line. Trent then extended their lead to 5-2 with two quick fire goals from Colm Cannon and James Wood, the later being a spectacular long range effort.

It looked as if Trent were on course to regain their Ice Hockey Varsity crown when Tom Griffiths pulled a goal back for university to put them just two behind at 5-3. Mervyn Tasker then pulled off a vital save with Trent missing a guilt edged opportunity to maybe put the game beyond University but then soon after Adam Robinson scored a fantastic goal to take it to 4-5, so it was game on again. Trent then dominated the final five minutes of the second period but neither side added to their score, with both sides losing men to penalties at the end of the period.

As the third period started Trent tried to close the game out by trying to control the puck and not commit as many men forward as they had done previously. This resulted in the game becoming scrappy and disjointed as the tempo dropped. With just under 10 minutes to go after a series of substitutions, Trent conceded a penalty due to holding, Anthony D’Aversa being the culprit. This proved crucial and provided University with a route back into the game. Stewart Bliss University’s captain leading from the front with a good finish making it 5-5. However immediately some sloppy defence from University resulted in Trent’s O’Flaherty regaining the lead for his team. This left 8 minutes for University to try and get back into the game otherwise they would lose their Ice Hockey Varsity crown and Trent would take a 2-0 lead in the 2010 Series.

As University pushed for the equaliser Trent looked dangerous and a number of occasions Mervyn Tasker had to save his team. As time elapsed it looked ever more likely that University would come away disappointed. Trent’s number 21, Dean Mills was having an outstanding game and was breaking all of University’s attacks up. Then as we entered the final four minutes Roland Soltys saved the day and sent the University fans wild with a tremendous slap-shot to level things at 6-6. Mervyn Tasker then thwarted Trent, who had great opportunities to win the match in the last few minutes. As we entered the last seconds both sides had unsuccessful long range efforts.

This meant the match ended 6-6 and resulted in us having a penalty shootout to decide procedings.

The atmosphere was electric at this point and the tension was almost unbarable, neither side deserved to lose the match as Trent had the better of play throughout the match but University showed a never say die attitude and showed tremendous courage to keep coming back when it looked like they were beaten. The rules of an Ice Hockey shootout are that the puck is placed in the centre of the rink and the player can then skate it up to the goal as long as the puck doesn’t become stationary. Unlike in Football or Soccer the shootout favours the goaltender or keeper with it difficult to score.

Tom Griffiths stepped forward for University to take the first penalty against his brother in the Trent goal. The attempt was unsuccessful, Trent stepped forward with Moran and he missed as did Nilsson and Lane for University and Hayward and O’Flaherty for Trent. This meant after three attempts each we were still waiting for our first score. Up stepped Mike Davie for University who managed to break the deadlock and push the puck past the advancing Trent keeper. This put the pressure on Mills for Trent who crumbled and it gave University the chance to take the match. The opportunity fell to who Adam Robinson who was cool under the pressure and slotted the puck home to give University the Match, 2-0 on the Shootout.

After that URN were lucky enough to catch the winning Uni coach Simon Hopkins for a quick interview:

It was a thrilling end to a wonderful game and University managed to retain the Ice Hockey crown. A special mention has to be given to Mervyn Tasker who saved University on numerous occasions and if it wasn’t for him Trent would have run away with the game. Both teams can be proud that they provided a wonderful specticle and it leaves the 2010 series level at 1-1 with all to play for in the coming weeks and months.

Interview with Ben Gillingham (Uni Fresher):

URN MAN OF THE MATCH: Mervyn Tasker (Uni)

Man of the Match Interview:


Live Text Updates & Match Report by Tim Baker
Audio compiled by Tom Ryan
Photos courtesy of Paul McGroary