Ice Hockey

Can UoN finally reverse the trend in Varsity Ice Hockey?

After emphatic displays from all twelve Green and Gold outfits on Super Wednesday saw the 2018 series get off to a flyer for UoN, the reigning Varsity series champions now have the chance to take the lead in the overall series. That chance comes in the form of an individual event where UoN are not the champions and have not tasted victory since 2015, however.

In Ice Hockey, UoN have struggled to maintain their prowess in recent years. A year ago, they could not recover from falling 3-0 behind early in the second period as they lost 5-4 to their NTU rivals at the Motorpoint Arena. The rival uni teams are drawn from a unified club that sees students from the two institutions train together for the Nottingham Mavericks. In February’s Battle of Notts, a pre-cursor of sorts to the Varsity event, the UoN students were given even more reason to wreak revenge tonight when they surrendered a 3 goal lead to lose 5-4.

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‘victory here would probably represent something more significant than its effect on the overall series score’

Even in this heartbreaking loss there were positives to be taken for UoN, who were lethal on the attack when they had the puck, plus two excellent performances from Harry Pilcher and Matthew Farmer. Varsity should definitely be another enthralling contest from these two teams.

The disappointment from seeing early promise dissipate into complacency, plus a handful of fights, will have left the Green and Gold anxious to finally make amends on the ice. Indeed, victory here would probably represent something more significant than its effect on the overall series score, with intense emotions both on the rink and in the stands of a packed-out Motorpoint Arena making this an annual highlight event. To many individual supporters and athletes, victory here offers the highest form of bragging rights and glory – and was felt distinctly lacking amid UoN’s dominance across almost every other sport in the series last year.

The names to watch out for will be Harry Pilcher and Matthew Farmer, with Pilcher underpinning the UoN approach of taking quality shots as opposed to pure volume. The key will be to not let Trent back into the contest if they get on top as they did in February, and keeping things tight at the back.

With Super Wednesday’s enjoyable but relatively unsurprising whitewash of Trent, it now gets a little more competitive and uncertain. Whilst there is obvious incentive to see UoN extend their sporting dominance into this event, one can’t help but feel that the fact there’s a good chance of seeing them lose, let alone not coast to victory, underpins why this is one of the most enjoyable and supported events.

Tom Monks and Callum McPhail

Images courtesy of UoN Sport.

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