The University of Nottingham (UoN) Ice Hockey Team lost 5-4 in a hard-fought contest in the Battle of Notts at the Motorpoint Arena against Nottingham Trent University (NTU). Despite leading 4-3 after two periods, for the majority of the contest it was a case of quality over quantity with regards to shots for UoN, being outshot 35-10 over the first two periods.
UoN raced out to the 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Murray Whitehead and a solo effort by Harry Pilcher. Pilcher immediately then won the fight off the ensuing faceoff after his goal. Along with an excellent performance from the goaltender for UoN, this period was largely one where Trent dominated the puck. UoN were much more dangerous on the occasions when they did have the puck, however, as exemplified by Pilcher’s breakaway goal.
The second period was really where the tide turned in Trent’s favour. After some early pressure was broken by a boarding penalty, Pilcher scored again in the power play to give UoN a 3-0 lead and a seemingly comfortable position. However, in just over a minute Dan Gilbert bundled in a pair of goals and Jay Porter added a solo effort to level matters for Trent in front of a boisterous crowd. At this point it was necessary for UoN to take their 30 second timeout, to prevent the largely pro-Trent crowd becoming an extra player on the ice and give UoN a chance to clear their heads.
A matter of minutes later Pilcher completed his hat-trick with another solo effort to regain the lead, the last time UoN would get on the scoresheet. After surviving a hairy end to the period without surrendering any more goals, the game was interestingly poised going into the final period with Trent clearly in the ascendancy.
The final period was definitely a testing one, with some feisty play by both sides exemplified by the roughing penalty taken by Trent at the 12:52 mark for attempting to start a fight with a UoN player. Trent levelled the contest at the 14:07 mark with Gilbert completing his hat-trick, converting on a feed into the slot on a breakaway.
“Even in this heartbreaking loss there were positives to be taken for UoN, who were lethal on the attack.”
The game continued with this physical tone right throughout the final period, with a few vital defensive plays from Matthew Farmer helping to keep the game level, as well as some excellent saves from close range. Finally, Gilbert put the game away with 2:34 remaining, burying the rebound on a breakaway to put the contest to bed after a brief consultation by the referees.
Even in this heartbreaking loss there were positives to be taken for UoN, who were lethal on the attack when they had the puck and the excellent performances from Pilcher and Farmer. Varsity should definitely be another enthralling contest from these two teams.
After the game, Impact Sport spoke to UoN player Hugh Pullman:
Impact: What do you think to the result today?
Pullman: ‘It was unfortunate that we ended the game with a loss but I think everyone gave a good effort and, considering the team line-ups, we did well.’
Impact: What went wrong after being 3-0 up and comfortable to conceding 3 in a minute?
Pullman: ‘After going 3-0 up, I think we got a bit overconfident and relaxed too much, and let them score some quick goals.’
Impact: What were the tactics pre game?
Pullman: ‘Most of our tactics were sticking to what we knew and keeping it simple with a tight defence.’
Impact: How are the whole team feeling after the game?
Pullman: ‘The whole team very much enjoyed the game even though we came out with a loss. It was still a great event which was a lot of fun to compete in.’
Impact: You both train and play together. How did that affect the game?
Pullman: ‘Training and playing together added a bit of friendly rivalry, with some big hits and a lot of talk on the ice. As soon as you’re off it, everyone knows it’s just a bit of fun and part of the game, and at the end of the day we are still friends.’
Images courtesy of Impact Sport