Nottingham Varsity Ice Hockey 2010
Posted on Mon 22nd February, 2010
The 6th annual Nottingham Varsity Ice Hockey game proved as magical as ever, with the capacity crowd captivated by a game that could only be decided by a spectacular penalty shootout.
Uni came into the game as holding champions of the Varsity title, though had only won one of the previous 5 contests. On paper, all the neutrals were backing the Trent squad, who had been bolstered this year with the addition of seasoned ex-Nottingham Panther Paul Moran.
From the puck drop, it became clear that the Trent team wanted to get physical, and it took just two minutes for them to lose a man to the penalty box, which proved to be their biggest flaw in the team, spending almost a third of the game on the penalty kill. However, with only 5 minutes of gritty play gone, Trent found the back of the net after a scrappy play behind the cage left James Wood in front unguarded to shoot it home.
Goals from both sides followed, with Uni equalising on the powerplay, and then taking the lead with Tom Griffiths putting the pack past his brother in the Trent goal. Not dropping their heads, Trent brought it back to 2-2, Moran scoring just six seconds into a powerplay. The crowd, realising what a game they had on their hands, were raising the roof of the NIC, with Trent taking a 3-2 lead with less than 2 minutes left in the 1st period, which they held into the interval.
After some impressive pee-wee hockey action, the 2nd period began, and again Trent played a rougher game, and were penalised early. Though killing this successfully, they held momentum and scored two fast goals, one from Captain Illingworth, and another from long time Trent hero Colm Cannon, who was sporting the A, giving Trent a 5-2 lead with 25 minutes played.
Again Trent gave away a penalty, which Uni capitalised on quickly, with Griffiths scoring his second of the night Uni were given some hope from this retaliatory goal, but struggled to keep Trent out of their zone, with numerous back-to-back icing calls being given against desperate clearances by the Uni team, trying to keep the puck away from Mervyn Tasker, the goalie responsible for some spectacular stops that held Uni of Notts in contention.
After a relentless Trent attack, Uni caught a lucky break in the neutral ice, and assistant captain Robinson buried a scrappy puck, leaving the score 5-4 to Trent at the end of the second.
The third period started as the 2nd had finished, with both teams battling hard, but Trent constantly looking dangerous on the attack. Mervyn Tasker, the netminder for Uni, continued making brilliant saves, allowing Uni to wishstand waves of pressure from Trent.
With 10 minutes to go, Uni managed to take advantage of another powerplay, and brought the score to 5-5, with a big goal from their Captain Bliss. Trent responded, taking the lead back just 26 seconds later, with O'Flaherty roofing the puck for Trent's 6th goal.
The Trent players knew it wasn't over yet, despite the Trent fans celebrations, and Uni of Nottingham point-man Soltys proved this, rocketing home an equaliser with just over 5 minutes of play to go. Both teams used their time-outs in these dying minutes, with Trent maintaining offensive pressure, but the final hooter sounded with the score 6-6, meaning a penalty shootout would decide the victor, with no overtime. This was a situation that favoured Uni of Nottingham, with their netminder Tasker having a spectacular night, stopping 39 of 45 shots against him, compared to the 21 stops to 27 shots rate of Griffiths in the Trent net. The first 3 rounds of penalties gave no goals, with the pressure of the screaming crowd perhaps taking its toll on the shooters. On the 4th shot, Mike Davie, who had opened the scoring for Uni, managed to squeeze the puck in to lead the shootout 1-0. With Tasker maintaining his form, he made another fine stop, allowing his teammate Robinson to seal the game, scoring on the final shot of the night. The Uni of Nottingham team reacted by storming over to Tasker and mobbing him. Both goalies were deservedly awarded Man of the Match for their respective teams.
Post-game report by Tom Newcombe
6 - 6
0 - 1 (pen)
University of Nottingham
Mom: Griffiths Mom: Tasker