Sheffield Hallam University won a nine-goal thriller and came out 5-4 winners in the annual Varsity ice hockey final against the University of Sheffield, with the final overall Varsity score finishing 45.5-32.5 to the Black and Golds.
That overall win is Uni’s biggest ever winning margin, eclipsing the 12-point record set in 2017.
As expected considering their record in this event, it was Hallam who made the stronger start to proceedings as they dominated possession in the early stages.
Despite Uni of sealing the overall victory yesterday, there was no doubting the commitment of the two sides, shown by the fact that a fight broke out after just five minutes.
Despite their dominance, Team Hallam weren’t able to make the breakthrough until the end of the first period, when Gabriels Grzibovskis made it 1-0 with a simple tap-in.
Uni of had a good opportunity to equalise just 10 minutes into the second period, but Gareth Pirie’s shot was well-saved by Nathaniel Bell.
The Black and Golds were made to temporarily rue this missed chance as Hallam doubled their advantage just minutes later. Daniel Hyde took it upon himself to score a superb solo goal, much to the delight of the Hallam section of the crowd.
However, Uni of didn’t let their heads drop and got themselves back level with two quick-fire goals. Pirie got the first as he found the back of the net from a tight angle.
Solomon Smith made it 2-2 just moments later, assisted by Arron Hudson.
Uni completed a dramatic turnaround four minutes before the end of the second period. Mitch White made it 3-2, assisted by Tom Brooke-Smith and Peter Toth. But it wasn’t enough to end the period in front, as Jack Dransfield equalised for Hallam to make it 3-3.
It was Hallam who made the stronger start to the final period, but this didn’t stop them falling 4-3 behind around seven minutes after the restart. Shanav Jaiswal found himself clean through on goal, and showed great composure to put Uni of back in front.
But the Black and Golds’ lead didn’t last long, as Dransfield levelled once again to make it 4-4 with his second goal of the game for Team Hallam.
Having gained some momentum, Hallam were able to make it 5-4 with six minutes to play courtesy of Hyde’s second goal of the game. This was ultimately enough to condemn Uni of to yet another defeat in this event, despite a truly valiant effort.
After the match, University of Sheffield captain Will Paine said: “We have confidence that we can get back into a game like that. We went down pretty early but you can’t let that affect the way you play.
“We’ve played this fixture a number of times, the team only has two new players coming in, so a lot of people are used to playing in this atmosphere, but you can’t let that affect you and I think we did a really good job coming back into it.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t get that last one there, but we battled under pressure, and give us another five minutes and we might have had a go.”
Photographer: Ms Juliet Cookson