January 31, 2014, by Malvika Johal
Alumni celebrate at Varsity Ice Hockey
Written by Tom Barnes (International Security and Terrorism 2013)
Monday 27th January saw the opening event of the 10th annual varsity series between the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent. Whilst other university rivalries include boat races along the Thames and rugby union at Twickenham, Nottingham’s offering is a high octane and brutal clash at the spiritual home of Torvill and Dean. A sell-out crowd, including 70 alumni guests, packed in the Capital FM Arena to witness the increasingly legendary Varsity Ice Hockey.
Last year’s match was a thrilling victory for the University of Nottingham, finishing a nail-biting 4-3 after extra time. This was the only shred of confidence left for University of Nottingham supporters as Nottingham Trent took a surprise 3-0 lead in the first period. Two disallowed goals for the University of Nottingham in quick succession were the source of a great deal of confusion in the University of Nottingham stand – both as to why the goals did not stand and what the rules actually were. With the latter in mind, there were few complaints.
One of the most appealing features of the Varsity Series and the Ice Hockey in particular is the sense of identity and university pride on both sides. Testament to this was the popularity of this event with both recent graduates and more seasoned alumni returning to display their support for the university. To a chorus of (occasionally) abusive chanting – and don’t think our alumni didn’t join in – the University of Nottingham rallied and began a comeback of 2013 proportions.
Finally the University of Nottingham goals started pouring in, pulling the match back to 3-3, before a long range strike saw the University of Nottingham take the lead for the first time. This was a result they’d hold on to, winning the game 4-3, just like last year. In many ways this was a much sweeter victory than an all-out thrashing, as the Nottingham Trent crowd slowly grew quieter and University of Nottingham roared up. This was universally palpable in the crowd, and in terms of celebration the current students and our returning alumni were indistinguishable. An incredible and memorable night for all.
Varsity Ice Hockey is a fairly unique phenomenon. It has the ability to sell-out at the speed of Glastonbury tickets, is the unlikely centrepiece of the Varsity series, and is attended by crowds who in the most-part have absolutely no idea what the rules and tactics are. In essence, it is our metaphorical boat race. Few things unite the wider student body – even transcending the current student body to alumni – quite like the Varsity Ice Hockey. Roll on 2015, when we can all learn slightly more rules and celebrate another dramatic 4-3 victory.
A full gallery of images from the evening can also be found in our facebook gallery.