Uni Unite after Poor Poly Performance
Posted on Mon 20th July, 2009
Ice hockey is once again rising in popularity in Lace City. But this time it's the student community that's leading the way.
The Nottingham Varsity Series is arguably the biggest in the UK with the traditional sports of rugby and football playing key roles. However, it is now ice hockey that is firmly top of the Varsity bill.
In only its fifth year, varsity ice hockey has become a sell-out event at the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham, with 6,500 spectators attending the game on March 9th, making it the forth biggest ice hockey match to be held annually at the venue with arguably the best atmosphere.
Pre-game sales were strong and Arena staff had to turn people away half an hour before face off with students scouring the Arena foyer to buy the last few tickets.
The build-up was impressive, with carefully selected music creating an energetic atmosphere followed by a Dance performance by the Tracy Quaife Theatre Dance School and an ice dance performance by NTU students and National Ice Centre Elite skaters Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland.
Both teams were keen to impress in front of their screaming fans. Every body-check was cheered and the banter between the two universities was as fierce and comedic as ever.
The Nottingham Trent University team were so busy looking to defend their four to nil varsity ice hockey record that they failed to appreciate the confidence, organisation and determination of the University of Nottingham side.
It was the University of Nottingham that opened the scoring after fifteen tense minutes with Tom Griffiths scoring past his brother and NTU netminder Richard Griffiths. Finn, Petri Myllyla assisted the goal. NTU were unable to react and the first period ended 1-0 to the Beeston outfit who went to the locker room brimming with confidence and belief.
After a brief lesson in goal scoring from the Nottingham Pumas under 10s in the first intermission, Adam Robinson resumed the main event by capitalising on a powerplay with an assist by housemate Tom Griffiths and American Anthony Ceraulo after another fifteen minutes of play. Clearly worried about Nottingham's depth, Trent were forced to play some of their best players out of position, with defenseman Marcus Maynard instructed to expose any weaknesses in the Nottingham defence with his size and speed. This worked for Trent as Maynard scored what was to be Trent's only goal from a play also involving Canadian Neil Kates and alternate captain Mark Illingworth. Less than a minute later Stuart Bates scored Beeston's third goal, again assisted by Tom Griffiths. Mike Davie then ended his Varsity ice hockey goal scoring drought by firing-in a goal from a Ben Bliss assist. With two University of Nottingham goals disallowed, the second period ended 4-1.
The second intermission started with University of Nottingham AU President beating NTU Sports Vice President Ed Dupee, in the annual shoot-the-puck contest and ended with spectacular performances by the two sets of cheerleaders. Meanwhile, the players received their final instructions from the coaches in the dressing rooms.
Trent came out with attitude in the third period, trying to intimidate their opposition. This backfired as NTU took more and more penalties. Beeston took advantage of Trent's ill-discipline and Mike Davie dazzled Rich Griffiths with an awesome goal, assisted by Frenchman Michel Roda. Trent tried to respond by pulling their goalie and trying their luck with Czech, Martin Hrdlicka. Four minutes later and Nottingham University Captain, Stewart Bliss fired-in the last goal of the night with an assist from Stuart Bates. Realising there was no way back; Trent sought to rough things up, but later wished they hadn't bothered. Ben Bliss used his former professional experience with Sheffield Steelers to his advantage by walking away from an attack by Trent's Mark Illingworth who was given his marching orders for roughing. Four fights ensued with Beeston proving they were not only good hockey players but they were also handy with the fists, too, as Bates saw off Wittakorpi, Ceraulo laughed at Ruszala, Roda saw off d'Aversa and Gregory humiliated Kates. With just 7.9 seconds to play on the clock, the game was all but over. The referee eventually put his note pad and pencil away and final buzzer finally came allowing the University of Nottingham to take home the bragging rights for their first-ever Varsity ice hockey victory in 5 games and by the biggest margin.
Nottingham Trent University 1 - University of Nottingham 6