A spirited performance by the University of Sheffield could not stop Sheffield Hallam University claiming their sixth straight Winter Varsity ice hockey title.
The victory also meant that Hallam claimed the overall Winter Varsity trophy for the first time in the competition’s history.
This was the first time that the match had been staged at Sheffield Arena and the thousands of fans who turned up were treated to a match full of passion and heart.
Hallam controlled the game from the start, looking more composed in possession and asking questions of Sheffield net-minder James Zeller straight away.
The Canadian had the answer to most of those questions but after five minutes he was beaten by Simon Offord after a scramble in front of his goal.
It didn’t take long for Sheffield to answer back. Captain Luke Summers found himself with the puck on the blue line after an attacking face-off and his well hit slap shot managed to find its way past Sean Walsh in the Hallam net.
Despite the confidence that this obviously gave Sheffield, they could not get themselves on to the puck for any length of time and build pressure on Hallam.
This lack of possession told as the first period wore on. First, Nick Manning regained the lead for Hallam before Ian Clark widened the gap. Sheffield struggled to create chances and could not close the gap before the break.
Hallam’s dominance continued after the interval with Captain Matt Jeffcock scoring a breakaway goal. He carried the puck from centre ice over the blue line and faked a shot before sending Zeller the wrong way.
Sheffield finally began to find their feet after the goal. They started to keep possession and build successive attacks on the Hallam goal. Their play was rewarded when Jack Ware scored from another long range shot in the 30th minute.
The game soon returned to its regular pattern of Hallam attacks but Sheffield now seemed more confident and less likely to concede. As the team went into the locker rooms for the final time, the score was still tied.
The final period started in frantic fashion with Sheffield pushing hard. They narrowed the gap to one when Michael Szollosy followed up Andrew Terentjev’s blocked shot with 15 minutes to go.
The fabulous support for both sides sensed the tension rising and a string of penalties followed only serving to increase the frantic nature of the game.
Hallam managed to calm themselves enough to reclaim their two goal lead, Ben Duffy beating Zeller with just over 10 minutes to go.
However, Sheffield would not lie down and just over a minute later Terentjev himself did well to beat a defender and score.
As Sheffield pushed on they left themselves exposed in defence and GB women’s squad member Kat Wiggins found herself with enough room to pick her sport and effectively end the game with six minutes left.
Sheffield’s misery was compounded in the final minute when Chris Bryniarski, Hallam’s hat trick hero in last year’s fixture, squeezed his shot past the unfortunate Zeller, who had made numerous magnificent saves.
As the clock ticked down the Hallam fans celebrated their historic victory vociferously whilst the Sheffield contingent applauded their team’s worthy efforts.
Hallam forward Scott Antcliffe said after the game: “We played well and despite the fact that I only played a few shifts due to injury, it was a wonderful experience.”
The day ended with the Winter Varsity trophy being presented to Hallam sports Officer Samantha Gill by Sheffield Steelers General Manager Mike O’Connor amid jubilant celebrations from the Hallam team and fans.