Cambridge will benefit from the ice rink coming in Michaelmas 2018Dushanth Seevaratnam

Most people would be forgiven for being ignorant of Cambridge University’s prowess in the ice-skating rink. Along with Oxford, the club makes up half of the oldest rivalry in ice hockey history, as recognized by the International Hockey Hall of Fame in Canada. Since the first Varsity match in St Moritz, Switzerland in 1885, Cambridge University Ice Hockey Club has gone from strength to strength and the men celebrated their 100th Varsity just last year. The women’s club (CUWIHC), founded in the 1980s, boasts a slightly shorter history, but no less distinguished. It was one of the first women’s teams in the UK and remains one of two registered all-women’s teams.

Women’s ice hockey is still growing exponentially in comparison to the men’s game. While women’s teams are commonplace in the US and Canada, with tens of club teams per state and many high schools having their own team, the UK has around 20 female club teams competing each year, including the top semi-professional league. Though the sport is significantly less popular than these North American powerhouses, it is becoming increasingly well known, as marked by a popular professional men’s league. The Great Britain Men were recently promoted to the top division of World Championships, placing them in direct competition with teams such as USA, Canada, Russia and Germany.

Incredible dedication and commitment from newcomers and returners alike managed to rocket Cambridge to a landslide victory

Despite this, CUWIHC does not only draw on international students, but almost 75% UK students. While a few have played the sport before, many are drawn to the club as ex-figure skaters, or even just interested athletes who think that it looks fun. Historically, both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams travel to Peterborough every Sunday night, leaving Cambridge around 7pm to return around 1am, for an hour of on-ice practice. This is followed by two or three fitness sessions a week and a roller hockey session to practice stick handling skills. However, notably, this is all about to change: an ice rink is currently being built in Cambridge, to be ready for Michaelmas 2018. Located near the airport, this will revolutionize ice hockey in the area and nearly triple the clubs’ current ice time. Particularly for the newer players on the women’s team, this is sure to incredibly benefit the women’s side and yearly performance.

This change further places Cambridge on an equal playing field with Oxford, who have had an ice rink in their centre city for a long time. This is reflected in the Varsity results, as to date Oxford have won about 75% of the women’s matches (although, the men’s results are more 50/50). However, CUWIHC does not let this history get to them. This past year, incredible dedication and commitment from newcomers and returners alike managed to rocket Cambridge to a landslide victory of 16-2, hopefully marking Cambridge’s fortunes as are on the up, especially with the arrival of the rink to look forward to.

While the women’s team presents a team of mixed abilities, from newcomers to those who have played the sport for over 20 years, Cambridge still competes at a high level in a mixed gender league. Playing in the second division of non-checking (women’s rules) hockey, the team normally place about mid-table against many all-male teams, an impressive result from a women’s squad. The club’s increasing success has been recognized by the selection of members for international sides. The squads currently contain two members competing with the GB University squad. This international representation is new for the club, and again demonstrates its growth as a club in performance level and popularity of the sport nationwide.


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Although there is no Cupper’s tournament at the moment, once the new rink is ready, a new one is in the pipeline to start next year under the name ‘Stanley Cuppers’. Named after the National Hockey League trophy, the team hope this will help to gather support for the club and scout fresh talent in Cambridge. Despite this, the sport is still well recognized in Cambridge, with the men’s Blues currently possessing Full Blue status due to their consistent outstanding performance, and the women’s Blues possessing Half Blue status. However, the women recently were awarded three discretionary Full Blues for their international competitors and are planning to apply for Full status due to growing popularity of the sport and improving facilities.

If you want to get involved with the sport, be sure to contact Cambridge University Ice Hockey Club on their Facebook page or come and find them at the Fresher’s Fair in October. They are always on the look out for new talent, so if you are prepared to embrace the cold and skate on thin ice (pun intended), ice hockey could be the one for you.

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