Ice Hockey Post-match Report

25th February 2013

Varsity Ice Hockey at the Capital FM Arena (18/02/13)
Final score: Uni 4-3 Trent

Varsity events don’t come much bigger than the annual Varsity Ice Hockey clash between Trent and Uni. The clash has become the showpiece event of the Varsity calendar and this year was no exception with all of the 8,000 tickets selling out well in advance.

UoN went into this year’s clash looking for their first win in 3 years and the desire to end this barren spell was clear to see. Man of the Match Luke Branin opened the scoring for UoN just 45 seconds into the game and UoN didn’t look back running into a 3-0 lead in the first period. This sparked Trent Coach Matt Bradbury to call a time-out and speak to his clearly shook-up Trent side. Whatever was said worked and Bradbury’s side settled and began to play good hockey creating a series of half chances. Their pressure paid off with a goal midway through the first period bringing the score back to 3-1 and giving the Trent players the confidence they needed. Trent continued their resurgence for the rest of the period and had a number of chances to score on the power play, as Uni began to give away needless penalties. However UoN held firm and went into the first break 3-1 to the good.

The second period was a tight, cagey affair with neither side able to really take control of the game. In truth Trent did continue to look the better side forcing a number of saves from UoN goalie Richard Griffiths. The main source of joy from UoN came on the counter as they too forced a number of good saves from James Cantle. Neither side was able to convert any of their chances and the game remained poised at 3-1 going into the final period.

The UoN players were greeted as they returned to the ice with a rousing rendition of ‘STAND UP FOR THE UNI BOYS,’ clearly everybody both on and off the ice new this game was far from dead. And how right they were.

UoN started the period the better side, peppering the Trent goal with shots from all angles. However, it was Trent who struck first in the final period, a quick counter attack left UoN short defensively and Griffiths had run out of heroics, 3-2. Trent fans sensed something special, and the atmosphere built on their side of the arena. UoN fans looked nervous. And then things went from bad to worse. Driven forward by their star player Gareth O’Flaherty, Trent scored their second in two minutes to tie the game at 3-3. There was now a serious danger Trent could run away with the victory.

To their credit UoN didn’t lose their heads and continued to work hard, battling for everything on the ice. UoN continued to defend heroically, keeping the score level, and the script seemed to have been written for the drama of overtime. One man, however, hadn’t turned up to rehearsals. A counter from UoN led to a scramble for the puck in the Trent goalmouth. Branin charged towards the net and managed to get his stick on the puck which crept over the line. The man who started the scoring in this varsity clash seemed to have finished it. UoN had 3 minutes to hold on and secure a famous varsity victory. Trent Streamed forward pulling their goalie off the ice in favour of another outfield player, but it was to no avail, UoN held firm and the buzzer sparked wild scenes of celebration.

Varsity Ice hockey was over for another year and all 7,000 fans had been treated to an incredible game. The Trent players can count themselves unlucky that they had come up just short but let’s take nothing away from UoN team. They may have been second best for large periods but they switched on at the key moments and that proved decisive in their 4-3 victory.

All that is left to say is: Bring on Next Year.

Paul Millington & Jack Maclaren