SHEFFIELD – April 17, 2016 - Fresh off claiming the BUIHA Division 1 South title, the Cambridge Men’s Light Blues headed to Sheffield this past Sunday to take on the Nottingham Mavericks, the winners of the BUIHA North division. Styles make fights, and this one put the nation’s best offense from Nottingham against the nation’s best defense fromCambridge. It was going to be a tough test if the light Blues were going to take their first ever national title.
Both teams got out of the blocks quickly and pushed to get an important early goal. Nottingham struck first, when Peter Burai converted from the high slot after a turnover in the Cambridge zone. Cambridge equalized on the next shift as Vaclav Berenek carried the puck down the left side in the zone and placed a low, hard shot on net that beat the Nottingham keeper. The teams continued to push the pace and fire shots on net with both keepers getting tested early and often. Nottingham would score again a few minutes later when the nation’s leading scorer, Edward Gale, found the back of the net after some good work below the Cambridge net. Cambridge was held scoreless on the power play and after trading a few chances in open play, the period ended with the light blues down 2-1
The second period began quickly like the first period, but it was Nottingham who had the better of the play. They were rewarded with an early goal, when a deflection in front sat up nicely for Robin Mullen and pushed the lead to 3-1. Nottingham continued to apply pressure and if not for some enormous saves from goalie Romaine Tourenne the deficit could have been much larger. The Cambridge defense started to tighten and they started to build a path back into the game. Henry Aspegren put home a rebound off after a faceoff win led to a shot from the top of the circle and made the game 3-2 near the midway mark of the period. Cambridge carried their momentum and Captain Spencer Brennan led a rush into the Nottingham zone that Chris Finch was able to finish off. The teams headed to the locker room tied at 3 to begin an all-important 20 minutes to decide the title. When asked about his team’s performance, the Captain responded: “There was never one ounce of quit on this team at any point in the game. We kept our cool, stuck with what we do best and knew that if we played our game we were going to get our chances. It isn’t easy being down 2 in a title game, but no one panicked and I’m proud of the way the boys handled it.”
The third period was tense with both teams feeling the effects of such a fast paced game. Cambridge started brightly, producing chances and found pay dirt when Scott Dimond deflected a Declan O’Briain shot from the point to give Cambridge their first lead of the game. Joseph Marshall followed it up with a goal of his own on the next shift when he was released down the left side and beat the Nottingham keeper with a nifty shot to make it 5-3 Cambridge with 12 minutes to play in the game. Having scored 4 unanswered goals, Cambridge looked to absorb pressure and try to counter quickly against Nottingham who had to gamble to get back in the game. The game stepped up in intensity when Nottingham star Edward Gale got his second of the night and brought the score to 5-4 with 10 minutes remaining. Nottingham continued to push, but some more timely saves and desperate defending kept them off the scoreboard. The game ended at 5-4 and the boys in light blue spilled out onto the ice to celebrate the first national title in team history. While reflecting on the gravity of the achievement, team President Michal Barabas remarked: “The first title in team history is a big deal for this program. In my time here it’s been incredible to watch the program grow and develop, and we’re looking forward to some big developments to keep us at this level in the future. But for now, I’m going to go enjoy this one.”
The Light Blues now head off to the Tier 1 National Tournament in Sheffield taking place over April 23 and 24. The schedule of games can be found here:http://buiha.org.uk/national.php?div=136. Catch all the action live and follow our progress by checking back for the streaming link on Saturday!