Oxford Snatch Last-Ditch Win in Ice Hockey Varsity

Cambridge’s Ice Hockey team slump to a heartbreaking loss in over-time after a thrilling contest against the Dark Blues.

cambridge ice hockey Ice Hockey Blues Ice Hockey Varsity Match Oxford Ice Hockey Tavana University Ice Hockey

Oxford 7 – 6 Cambridge

The 90th Varsity Men’s Ice Hockey Match ended in frustration for Cambridge, Oxford levelling the scores with only 30 seconds left on the clock and then scoring in over-time to take a 7-6 sudden death victory.

Very rarely do Cambridge athletes get the chance to express their ‘feelings’ towards their Dark Blue rivals in quite such a brutal manner as in Ice Hockey, a sport in which outright brawls are only punished with 2 minutes in the sin-bin. .

The first period started with probing attacks from both sides. However, it wasn’t until both teams had got on the scoreboard that the game really began to heat up, Tavana scoring his second goal to put Cambridge 2-1 up. Both teams made some crunching hits in the period; at one point, an Oxford player collided with the referee, who hit the deck to the delight of both sets of fans.

Photos: Paul Young

The second period saw a spate of penalties, Cambridge receiving three in the first 5 minutes. Waterman, a Cambridge defender, was especially surprised. Having dived heroically to preserve Cambridge’s slender lead, he was promptly given his marching orders – allegedly for having gone for the player and not the puck. Oxford made full use of their numerical advantage, slipping in an equalizer to make it 2-2. However, Tavana ensured that parity was momentary, getting his name on the scoresheet yet again to make it 3-2 to the Light Blues. He looked for all the world to have extended the lead, only for the refree to disallow his attempt – to the fury of the Cambridge bench.

Oxford quickly levelled the score again, making it 3-3 despite the Light Blues’ obvious dominance in the period. Fielding had two shots saved in quick succession as Cambridge failed to capitalise on their possession. Eventually though, some slick passing between Tavana and Bonderoff gave Whillier the opportunity to score the fourth goal which he smashed in with frightening power to make it 4-3. Once again, Cambridge’s lead was short-lived; despite a fine block from St-Pierre, a new shift of Oxford players onto the ice saw them bounce back to leave the scores at 4-4 going into the final period.

Photos: Paul Young

Oxford began the third period in fine style, scoring to take a 5-4 lead. With only 8 minutes left, it looked like the Varsity Trophy was slipping away from the Cambridge team. However, a sensational passage of play saw Cambridge score twice in quick succession. First, a stylish long-distance wrist-flick from Whillier made it 5-5. Then Morelli finished off a lovely team move to give Cambridge a 6-5 advantage with only 2 minutes to play.

Oxford called a time-out with less than a minute remaining; it was at this point that the fixture started to resemble something from the Mighty Ducks. With every block from Cambridge being greeted with raucous cheers, Oxford somehow managed to squeeze the puck into the net to make it 6-6, amidst sheer mayhem on the ice.

The game then went into sudden death: five minutes to play and the first team to score would be crowned champions. Still on a high from their late equalizer, Oxford pinned Cambridge down inside their own half. Then, with less than two minutes remaining, they landed the sucker punch, scoring from a face-off to make it 7-6 at full-time.

Cambridge Ice Hockey President Rich Trueman, had this to say after the match: “The whole team played fantastically well and can be incredibly proud of themselves for all their efforts not only in that match, but throughout all of the season so far. It was heartbreaking to lose in that manner but we get a shot at revenge very soon as we will face Oxford again in the first round of the league playoffs.”

The Tab’s Man of the Match: Tavana

For The Tab’s photos from the game, click here.