Varsity Ice Hockey: Monday 20th February
15th February 2012
The showcase event of the Varsity calendar is back.
Two teams that know each other’s every strength and weakness.
Two teams containing current and former professional players.
A 7,000 sell-out at the National Ice Centre.
These are just three of the reasons why Ice Hockey Varsity is the success story it is. Even so, the idea of the event was initially unpopular with Varsity organisers. URN caught up with Simon Hopkins – an ex-Uni player, GB and current Uni Head Coach – who since coming up the idea of the Varsity fixture, has seen the occasion grow from year to year.
Hopkins is predicting a tight encounter between Uni and Trent, who go into the tie as slight favourites on paper after winning the game last year 4-2, and believes that the goaltenders will play a decisive role in the grudge-match.
Paul Moran, ex-pro for Nottingham and GB, and current Trent favourite, also thinks that the defence and men between the posts will ultimately decide the important details of the game…by how much Trent will defeat Uni. He predicts a Trent victory by 3 or 4 goals to 1, and that would only be on a night with good goalkeeping displays.
Ice Hockey Varsity offers a combination of old and new faces meeting on the ice, with older, more experienced members and plenty of Freshers who are all set to get some game time in order to give them all the Varsity experience. This should result in an unpredictable match, likely to have to go the distance before a winner is clear.
One of the more interesting aspects of Ice Hockey Varsity which does not apply in other Varsity sports is that the teams lining up for Uni and Trent all play under the same banner of the Nottingham Mavericks outside of Varsity season. With three teams representing the Mavericks in each of the three university divisions, the players train with each other every week at the NIC. Indeed, Uni and Trent have even traded goaltenders this season, with Richard Griffiths (with previous appearances for Trent in these events) a notable new inclusion to the Uni side.
When asked what impact this has on the dynamic of the players, both Moran and Hopkins agreed that friendship is put on hold for the night. Of course, fighting is a famous part of Ice Hockey culture around the world, and while Moran insisted that he wouldn’t be looking to rough things up as he did famously for the Panthers, Hopkins simply added how while everyone are friends, on the ice, who knows what will happen?
When asked for their final words on the upcoming clash, Moran promised excitement; 60mph collisions and high-drama in front of an audience of 7,000 is, he says, all the encouragement you need to go and buy a ticket. Hopkins, concurred, adding that if Moran is telling you it will be a good match, you best listen, because it will be.
Keep checking urn1350.net for exclusive interviews with Uni and Trent players ahead of Monday night’s encounter, and follow the action live on Monday night from 7pm with URN: Your number one Varsity Source