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James Nottage has published 20 articles

Varsity Ice Hockey

Tabs thoroughly crushed in icy March encounter at Oxford ice rink
James Nottage on Saturday 21st April 2012
Photograph: Matt Henderson

In a packed Oxford Ice Rink, full of fans lured by generous drinks deals and the prospect of the fastest sport on ice, the Dark Blues put on quite the show. All the hard training paid off and Oxford ended up winning 17-1.

The home side were simply sublime. The first period saw them concede their only goal of the game, and even in that period they were very much in the ascendency. This form continued throughout, and the goals just kept coming for the men in Dark Blue.

In what was the epitome of a team performance it’s hard to pick standout performers, but Adrian Haight bagged four goals, and was named Man of the Match. Several of his Canadian compatriots also put themselves onto the scoresheet, in a team with a heavy proportion of those from the land of maple syrup.

Further afield, forward Rashid Muhamadrahimov, who hails from Namibia and poached the first goal of his ice hockey career in this game, said, ‘Credit goes to our goalie, Henry Spelman. With 20 Cambridge shots on goal against our 76, if he hadn’t (literally) been there we would’ve lost by 3 goals.’

Though this thoroughly dominant spectacle must represent the pinnacle of the season for Oxford there is one further test ahead. On the 21st of April they face Manchester in the British University Ice Hockey League National Final at Ice Sheffield. If they manage to win this OUIHC will become one of Oxford’s most successful sports clubs. Ice hockey’s profile is burgeoning currently among University students, with the ice rink regularly thronged on weeknights for beginner sessions. Rookie Katherine Skingsley said, ‘I was a bit suspicious when I was first cajoled down to the ice rink - I thought ice hockey was all toothless Minnesotans knocking lumps out of each other - but it’s a huge amount of fun and I now fancy myself as the next Wayne Gretzky!’

All in all then, with an utter shellacking of Cambridge under their belts, a cup final to come, and growing grass roots in town, it seems ice hockey and Oxford have some future together. It’s hardly about to challenge the Boat Race, but if you fancy an evening out you could do much worse than heading to the ice.

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