Cambridge came from behind twice to edge out their Oxford opponentsDik Ng/DKNG Photography

In the first game of Saturday’s (12/3) two-part Varsity Ice Hockey event at the Cambridge Ice Arena, Cambridge Women’s Blues triumphed over Oxford with a commanding 6-3 victory, claiming the Coyne Cup for the 39th Women’s clash and notching up their fourth Varsity win in a row.

The Coyne Cup was named after Canadian constitutional lawyer Deborah Coyne in 2019, who founded the Oxford Women’s team back in 1982 whilst she studied a Master of Philosophy in international relations.

Before taking to the ice, Cambridge University Ice Hockey Club (CUIHC) Co-President Simrat Sodhi commented on the buzz of Varsity: “The air changes around Varsity time, and every time you put on the fleece that game day is just a little bit different. The audience at a Varsity game is massive, electric, and we like to make it into a really big spectacle.

“When you think about the history of the fixture, you do feel a little bit of pressure to want to represent the Light Blue colour, but if you play your hardest and leave it all out on the ice then you can’t ask for much more.”

The opening period of play saw the use of a blind puck for the first time in the Varsity Match. Compared to a regulation puck, it’s larger, heavier, and makes more noise. This was designed for an Oxford player who was visually impaired, allowing her to play a period of the game.

Lively from the off, both teams exchanged tense moments in and around each other’s goal crease. An Oxford 2-on-1 was defended brilliantly by Cambridge’s Jennifer Marsh, while in the opposite zone a superb 4-on-1 from Saashi Bedford, which saw her glide through the sea of Dark Blue, was denied by Oxford keeper Natasha Durie.

Jennifer Marsh converted four goals for the Light BluesDik Ng/DKNG Photography

Momentum fell in Oxford’s favour after five minutes of play, as they menacingly got bodies in the Cambridge crease to go 1-0 up. The heroic efforts of goaltender Juliana Cudini were not enough to deny Oxford’s Katie Zhang.

Searching for an immediate response, Marsh made a dangerous dash through the neutral ground and into Oxford’s zone, but ended with the puck frozen up. Soon after, Bedford went into the box after a penalty call, putting Oxford on the power play for the first time and Cambridge into the penalty kill.

Unfazed by the number disadvantage, however, Captain Joa Hoshizaki darted to a one-on-one with defender Emma Walker-Silverman. Although coming to nothing, Hoshizaki killed a good chunk of time on the two-minute penalty, as the Light Blues eagerly awaited Bedford’s return to the ice.

But Marsh had her head down to make up for Bedford’s absence, tying up the score after showing great tenacity in the Oxford crease with four minutes left on the clock.

Now five-strong, Alison Sutherland scored for Cambridge just sixty seconds later. Oxford failed to clear their lines, allowing for two quickfire goals to the Light Blues going into the break.

The second period saw the introduction of a regulation hockey puck, which signalled that a faster game was in store for the sold-out arena.

Oxford struck first, with Katherine Scheibner producing the wrap-around effort to put one past substitute goalie Julianna Emmanuel. Sheibner was a standout on the Dark Blue side.

For a second time, Marsh hoped to answer back in a flash, but the goaltending efforts of Oxford’s Durie proved too much. The stonewall of a keeper denied the Cambridge attack numerous times during the deadlock.

Oxford’s Natasha Durie played well between the pipes, but was no match for Cambridge’s attackersDik Ng/DKNG Photography

The Light Blues went on the power play for the first time in the matchup with ten minutes to go after Joana Baptista tangled with Marsh, who then had her say by firing the biscuit into the basket, squeezing it through the five-hole - the gap between the goalie’s leg pads and the ice - after dangling her way through the Oxford defenders.

Oxford then went on their own power play following Gabrielle Budd picking up a penalty, but once again Cambridge converted during the number disadvantage, as Marsh bagged her hat-trick and Cambridge’s fourth with an incredible dash to finish on the shorthand.

Walker-Silverman had a sniff at the Light Blue goal with three minutes to go, but was strongly denied by Emmanuel.

The players re-emerged onto the ice for the final period of play to an impressive lights display and blaring tunes.

Marsh quickly found herself through on goal, but was denied by Durie - an all too familiar tale of the match.

Cudini was back between the pipes for Cambridge, being called into action by an immense amount of Dark Blue pressure in the opening five minutes of the period which, at one point, saw the puck skate across the goalline after Baptista made herself a nuisance.

Baptista soon landed herself in the box for holding the stick, putting Cambridge back onto the power play. In similar fashion to the first power play, Marsh found the back of the Oxford net to make it 5-2, grabbing her fourth of the evening. Durie looked to have had it locked up, but it just snuck through a gap in the five-hole.


Mountain View

Men’s Blues secure late victory over Oxford in Varsity Ice Hockey

Cambridge’s Bedford failed to make it six after Durie produced a brilliant butterfly save on the cue of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean thumping round the arena.

Oxford’s Scheibner picked up her second of the game with just over three on the clock, as Cambridge finally conceded a penalty kill. The Dark Blues had their tails up for the final passages of play.

But Oxford’s hopes were quickly squashed by Sutherland, who settled it with two to go, making the score 6-3 following some brilliant forechecking in the Cambridge zone.

As the final whistle sounded, the Light Blues took the honours in just the second Varsity series hosted in Cambridge. Oxford’s Scheibner and Durie were awarded Cambridge’s MVP and ‘Spirit of the Game’ awards respectively, while the Dark Blues chose Bedford for their MVP and Sodhi for ‘Spirit of the Game’, with all four players earning a traditional crate of beer to say cheers to a fantastic display of women’s ice hockey.

Speaking after the win, Cambridge’s Hoshizaki said: “It was an incredible win. We really stepped up and delivered, and I’m really proud of the girls. We were able to position correctly and win all the battles.”

Varsity Player of the Match: Jennifer Marsh (Cambridge)


Cambridge: Alison Sutherland, Saashi Bedford, Sonya Xu, Marina Mateo, Jennifer Marsh, Simrat Sodhi, Yasmin Siraj, Ella Ykema, Katherine Cartlidge, Rachel Adkins, Joa Hoshizaki (C), Georgina Brown, Gabrielle Budd, Melissa Yuan, Zhiqing Zhang, Julianna Emmanuel, Juliana Cudini

Head Coaches: Rachel Holland and Joe Allison

Oxford: Leanne Iorio, Emma Walker-Silverman, Emily Young Min, Sophie Fischer, Joana Baptista, Katie Zhang, Yue Wong, Katherine Scheibner, Vanessa Wynter, Hilary Scanlon, Sasha Webb (C), Natasha Durie

Head Coach: Abi Owen