CUIHC put in a commanding performance in the first Varsity at the Cambridge Ice Arenadavid tudman

The Light Blues emerged the runaway winners in the 102nd and first ever Cambridge Varsity Ice Hockey encounter, not only blasting eight goals past a shaky Oxford defence for the second year running but also registering a defensive shut out to keep the King Edward VII Cup firmly on Cambridgeshire soil.

And with a comfortable women’s victory earlier in the day, Cambridge also ensured a well-deserved double to send the Oxford back westward empty handed.

With a palpable sense of excitement in the frosty Cambridge Ice Arena air owed to the historic nature of the tie, both as a fixture stretching back to the late 19th century and as the first for Cambridge to be played at home, a rowdy home support greeted a Light Blue team who had dispatched this very same Oxford side 8-2 only three weeks before. And unfortunately for the travelling Oxford support, the Varsity was to be an even more sided affair.

It took only four minutes for the home side to register first blood, as Number 57 Evgeny Goncharov charged at the Oxford goal before sending a constantly rising shot from the right edge of the rink to obtain the first mark of the afternoon and settle any nerves amongst the home fans.

Attempting to respond Oxford then broke on a counter but the Light Blues were able to get back in numbers to nullify any attacking efforts, with a cohesiveness characteristic of their performance. This was however to prove one of Oxford’s few passages of play beyond the Cambridge blue line, with a first 15 minutes that saw them forced into bunker mode against an unyielding Light Blue offence.

For all their possession and threat however, it took another ten minutes before the hosts were able to add to their lead. But it was certainly worth the wait. In a moment of incredible vision, Goncharov sent a puck from the Cambridge goal area through multiple Oxford defenders to the Oxford goal mouth which gracefully found Number 88 Martin Limbäck-Stokin who had just entered the rink.

CUIHC retain the King Edward VII Cup for another yeardavid tudman

Not needing to be asked twice, Limbäck-Stokin controlled the puck before blasting it beyond Oxford keeper Mikhail Andrenkov to take the tie to 2-0 just before the buzzer.

Emerging for the second period the visitors seemed all too aware of the need to hoist themselves into a game they had seemed spectators in for the most part. In this, their best chance of the game up until that point came soon after the resumption as a low shot tested Cambridge keeper Matt Neville for the first time. His reflexes were quick however, and he was able to throw himself on the puck to halt the Oxford charge.

Immediately afterwards the hosts were back at their offensive best, as Captain 19 Lucas Maddalena launching an effort high into the goal beyond Andrenkov to make it three. This was to be the start of a blitz from Cambridge, as three goals came in rapid succession.

"In the end, we felt so thrilled with and proud of our performance and the result. This is a reflection of all the hard work and commitment that our team put in all year"

Maddalena followed his goal was followed with some elegant movement as he danced past four defenders before slapping a shot goalward and eventually forcing it over the line after some resistance from the visitors. Number 9 Julian Nappert then followed up with another forceful effort to take the tie to 5-0 and leave the home crowd in raptures.

And Cambridge were not quite finished for the period there, as Goncharov skated from the half way line to cut in from the right and send the puck beyond Andrenkov for yet another before the buzzer.

Growing increasingly frustrated and now facing a veritable mountain to climb, Oxford seemed unable to force themselves into the game where they lacked possession and the ability to build attacking plays with any real fluidity.

But whenever Oxford looked close to stringing something together, former Calgary Inferno player and 2019 Canadian Women’s Hockey League champion Number 88 Eden Murray was at the centre of it. Despite dislocating her shoulder mid-game, Murray recovered and went on to finish the tie and register arguably the best performance of the visiting team.

The final period started slower than the previous two, with the wind knocked out of the visitors supporters and a home side happy to let play come to them. Oxford went down a player soon after Number 24 Nestor Maslej was sent to the sin bin to leave the visitors with a numerical disadvantage they could have done without. Capitalising immediately, Limbäck-Stokin struck again to loft the puck into the roof of the net for 7-0.

Now looking towards double digits, Cambridge only exerted further control over the game into the last few minutes of the period. With a sense of inevitably to it for a side dominating possession throughout, Maddalena’s sealed a hattrick by dispatching a shot from the left which hit the post before trickling over the line to seal an outstanding captains performance and render a forgone conclusion all the more final

Valiantly attempting to get something from the tie till the end, Oxford subbed out their keeper for the last few minutes but they were ultimately unable to break down a resolute Light Blue defence which held strong all evening.

The final result left spectators with no doubts as to who the superior team were, as a gulf in quality resulted in a one sided affair throughout and a wholly deserved win for the Light Blues. Supporters of a Dark Blue persuasion will be left licking wounds and hoping that this emphatic defeat is not a sign of things to come in future contests at the Cambridge Ice Arena.

Speaking after the game, Maddalena reflected “Getting a late goal in the first period gave us a massive boost heading into the break. During intermission up 2-0 we felt like we played well and were in full control, and that if we continued playing our game we would increase our lead. Getting a few quick goals in the second was huge for us, and I think really put the match out of reach.”


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“In the end, we felt so thrilled with and proud of our performance and the result. This is a reflection of all the hard work and commitment that our team put in all year. All the guys will remember this night fondly for years to come.”

On the presence of a home crowd, he stated “We could feel their energy right from the moment we took the ice for warm-ups, which definitely fired guys up to new levels. They were electric all game. The thunderous cheers whenever we scored and the collective countdown as time expired are particular moments that I think will stick with me for a long time.”

“We feel so fortunate to have received this level of interest and support. Our victory is made even sweeter by having shared it with them.”

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