The University of Nottingham (UoN) Ice Hockey were gallant losers against Nottingham Trent University (NTU), after going down 9-5 in a emotionally-charged game at the Motorpoint Arena.
Four goals from Matti Parnanen and one from Robin Mullen was not enough to see UoN through, in what was a much more open game in comparison to last year’s 4-3 victory.
As the stadium filled early on, the atmosphere even during the players’ warm up suggested that this would be a massive game, as both fans cheered on their team, and derided the opposition, in turn.
The volume went into overdrive as the game started at a frantic pace, as both teams went for the jugular. The end-to-end action was to produce the first score of the game, as NTU capitalised on a poor UoN clearance to lead 1-0.
Cheered on by the Green and Gold fans, however, the UoN team came roaring back, and just a minute after falling behind, Matti Parnanen produced his first moment of magic in a stellar game for him to level the scores.
“It was only some inspired saves from UoN keeper Jay Porter that stopped NTU from equalising sooner”
The equaliser served to galvanive the UoN team, and UoN grabbed themselves a second, with Robin Mullen poking in from close range after a goal-mouth scramble.
Trent looked shell-shocked for a few minutes at what was a fantastic turn-around by UoN, but once they grew back into the game, in the middle of the first period, they showed their potency in attack. It was only some inspired saves from UoN keeper Jay Porter that stopped NTU from equalising sooner.
When Terry Reid was penalised and sin-binned for slashing, NTU were able to break UoN’s staunch defence, making it 2-2, and, when they grabbed another less than a minute later, the Trent crowd were sent into raptures, with the score remaining 3-2 at the end of the first quarter.
UoN came out for the second period fighting, however, and Matti Parnanen showed his precocious talent once again with his second goal of the game, levelling the score just after the restart.
“Parnanen’s hat-trick goal sent roars around the Motorpoint Arena, with the UoN crowd taking great joy in singing ‘you’re not singing anymore'”
By this point, both teams had taken 15 shots each, and indication of just how open the game was; it was only a matter of time before someone broke the deadlock, and Parnanen duly obliged.
Parnanen’s hat-trick goal sent roars around the Motorpoint Arena, with the UoN crowd taking great joy in singing ‘you’re not singing anymore’ to the Trent crowd; the sentiment would be returned later on by the Trent faithful.
UoN’s turn-around, much like in the first quarter, seemed to galvanise the NTU side, and the last 10 minutes of the second period was a blitz of Trent attacks.
A goal from Alex Cooper, followed by two from UoN defensive errors, and suddenly UoN were two goals down at 6-4. When Trent scored again before the end of the period, they faced a mountainous task to claw themselves back into the game.
With UoN having to come out all guns blazing to try and take something from the game, huge gaps were left open at the back, and so it proved as Trent broke away to make it 8-4, holding a lead that they ultimately never looked like relinquishing.
Even when there were two players down due to two penalties, UoN could not find a way through some resolute NTU defending; by this point, big hits were flying around across the rink, and, as tensions flared, the emotions finally spilled over.
“the game highlighted exactly why this is such a huge event, and the atmosphere of the crowd was nothing short of electric”
A feisty tackle in the middle of the rink turned into a fist-fight, sticks and helmets on the ground, with both players having to be separated by the referees. As the UoN player took to the sin-bin, plastic cups and paper rained down on him from the Trent crowd, firing up the UoN crowd even more.
Despite Parnanen’s fourth goal of the game, when Trent grabbed their ninth of the game, UoN heads finally seemed to drop, and indiscipline began to show through. Three players were sent to sin-bin, meaning that, at one point, UoN had just three outfield players on the ice.
Handshakes at the end, good game, great atmosphere, we go again tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/8iF2FO7y4w
— Impact Varsity 2016 (@ImpactVarsity16) May 5, 2016
As the game came to an end, the tensions in the crowd spilled over, as fights broke out between UoN and NTU fans, in some ugly scenes; a Trent spectator also decided to invade the rink and was promptly ejected by the referees.
Despite some ugly scenes at the end, the game highlighted exactly why this is such a huge event, and the atmosphere of the crowd was nothing short of electric.
Trent’s win also took the Varsity score to 6-3, going into Friday’s hockey and netball fixtures, with UoN looking to bounce back from their defeat.
University of Nottingham Team Roster:
Robin Mullen – Forward Coach
Simon Bell – Forward Coach
Emma Sanders – Defence Coach
Gordan Kallio – Forward Coach
Michael Rodgers – Defence
Luke Watson – Forward
Christy Johnson-Brown – Forward
Robert Pullar – Defence
Paul Whitby – Defence
James Francis-Barrie – Defence
Alex Shelkolyas – Forward
Mitchell Doucette – Defence
Alex Sin-Hidge – Forward
Patrick Willoughby – Goalie
Tom Woodward – Forward
Oli Hunt – Forward
Tom Bradshaw – Forward
Terry Reid – Defence
Jay Porter – Goalie
Jose Leon – Forward
Matti Parnanen – Forward
Jaakko Vayrynen – Defence
Words by Connor Higgs
Follow @ImpactVarsity16 for more updates on the 2016 Varsity Series.
Image: IMPACT Images Team