The world’s longest standing hockey rivalry returned to Switzerland for a centenary match.
Three members of the School’s 2017 MBA cohort – Eamon Devlin, CJ Ganns and Patrick Kolla – were part of Oxford’s winning team in the historic 100th Varsity Ice Hockey match against Cambridge.
The two teams fought a close match on the outdoor rink in St Mortiz, Switzerland, with Oxford securing a 4-3 victory in extra time.
'We got off to a great start over the first period and opening of the second,' said CJ Ganns. 'We then faced some adversity when forward Jason Lacombe injured his shoulder as he scored to put us up 3-1 early in the second period and had to be treated by another Blues forward, Chris Byrne, who was unfortunately the only doctor in the building. Down two players, we struggled throughout much of the latter half of the game—before surging to win it in overtime.'
'The third period was dominated by Cambridge as we came out a bit flat, and were still in shock at seeing our player carried off to the hospital during intermission,' added Eamon Devlin. 'Winning for him added a new level of meaning.'
'When I saw the puck go in I didn't think it was real,' said Patrick Kolla. 'I had thrown my stick and gloves in the air in reaction and was bolting across the ice but still part of me thought I might not have seen it go in. Eventually I realised it was over and was filled with an amazing sense of pride for my teammates, the club and University. It is not a feeling or situation I ever anticipated being in when signing up for the MBA.'
In recognition of the historical significance of the match, a jersey signed by the players will be entered into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Varsity grudge matches against Cambridge are a unique aspect of Oxford’s student life. While the Boat Race might be the most famous event in the University’s calendar, the history of the Ice Hockey rivalry stretches back to 1885, when the first match was held on an outdoor rink in the Swiss Alps. This year, the ‘original winter classic’ once again took place in Switzerland.
For the players, the match represented the culmination of years of training. ‘I’ve played this sport for longer than I can remember,’ said Patrick, ‘from the days of battling it out with my brothers on frozen ponds till our parents dragged us back in the house, to paid leagues as a young adult. To represent Oxford in this historic match was a great honour.’