Cambridge brings home the win in the first of two matches this season.
Pulling up to the Oxford ice rink, the bus was filled with excitement, music blasting and emotions high. One by one, like paratroopers off a warplane, the Cambridge Light Blues stepped off the bus and that excitement quickly turned to focus. Ahead of us, we knew, was undoubtedly the biggest game of the term and the second biggest of season.
Minutes before the warm-up, as we pulled our jerseys over our heads, a calm fell over the room and then came some inspiring words. With fire in their eyes, Team President Vaclav Beranek and Captain Spencer Brennan made sure we all understood what an honour it is to have the opportunity to be part of such a heated rivalry and, more importantly, such a magnificent tradition.
The puck dropped and both teams came out hard with nerves high. Oxford drew first blood one minute into the first period by capitalizing on an early power play. Down 1-0 so early in front of Oxford fans is not how we wanted to begin this match. Minutes later though, Christoph Kehle fed defenceman Pat Gut who got the Light Blues on the board with a quick wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle. Tied at one-a-piece, both teams played hard and physical and nerves began to settle. With 5 minutes left in the first, Centreman Oscar Wilsby cleanly won a draw in Oxford’s zone which set up Cody Valdes for a laser that snuck right under the goalie’s glove. Minutes after that, on a beautifully executed powerplay, Vaclav Beranek buried a rebound that came off a Spencer Brennan slap shot from the point to make it 3-1. And in the final minute of the first, an unsatisfied Will Theiss increased the lead to 3 goals when he corralled a loose puck in front of the net and put a masterful move on the goalie.
Cambridge carried a strong momentum into the second period and upheld it with a solid penalty killing performance in the opening minutes. The momentum took a turn, however, when, after a long and tiring shift that saw Cambridge trapped in their zone, Oxford found the back of the net with a one-timer in the slot. 4-2. The momentum looked like it would continue to shift Oxford’s way as, less than a minute later, Michal Barabas and Pat Gut were sharing the penalty box after receiving two minor penalties within seconds of each other, putting Oxford on a 5-on-3 power play for nearly two minutes. The PK unit stepped up though, with a mighty contribution from Vaclav Beranek, and battled viciously through an onslaught of offense, emerging with Cambridge holding on to its 4-2 lead. The PK unit killed two more penalties in the scoreless latter half of the second period.
Oxford came out hard in the third but Danny Orvomaa stood strong in the net, making several key saves to keep the lead at two. Four minutes in, Beranek put a low shot on net yielding a juicy rebound that was put away by Valdes who was parked in front the net under a fury of slashes and cross-checks. 5-2. The third period saw no Cambridge penalties but Oxford kept the pressure on at even strength. The Light Blues played a strong defensive period save for a short time near the 50th minute when they got caught scrambling in the defensive zone again. Oxford managed to capitalize on that with their third but last goal of the night. The last 10 minutes were hard fought on both sides but Cambridge played a disciplined defensive game and carried a 5-3 lead to the finish.
Another epic Oxford/Cambridge battle is in the books and one more under the Win column for Cambridge. The next meeting between the two will be the Varsity match, which will be at Cambridge on March 4th.
Cambridge MVP: Spencer Brennan (C) who marshalled the defence all night.
Cambridge Team-Voted Player of the Game: Landon Poe - a first year MPhil student in Land Economy at Wolfson College showed tremendous (to quote his leader) diligence and work ethic at the back end.