Congratulations are in order as Southampton University’s ice hockey team has swept to victory in the 2011 Championships. The Southampton Spitfires have now claimed the title of best university ice hockey team in the country.
Despite a difficult league season, the team were confident when it came to the championships as they remained unbeaten on the ice, even during a match against a reputable London team in which half the squad was missing.
The National Championships commenced on the 29th April; Saturday was comprised of group stage games against Newcastle and Edinburgh: the Spitfires were immediately on good form, beating them 8-0 and 6-0 respectively due to a high level of play on the part of both the forwards and defence.
Club Chairman Simon Gifford said of the victories: “a player from another team was overheard discussing possible opponents in the later stages of the tournament and many were worried about the prospect of playing Southampton.”
Sunday arrived and the Spitfires came up against the Cambridge Blues, who boasted a large amount of Canadian players. Nevertheless, this match again led to a win of 6-0 and the shock of their opponents. Next up were Manchester, who had cruised through their other games by conceding only one goal. The Spitfires lost by a close margin and the resulting score was 3-2.
Regardless, the team had by this point successfully reached the semi-final where they faced Nottingham as they had done a year previously.
According to Gifford: “rather than memories of that painful loss last year and doubt flooding through each player’s mind, all that was apparent was a need for revenge”.
Luckily, revenge was secured in a 8-2 win and the Spitfires saw themselves headed for the final; this would be against Manchester who had beaten Southampton in the group stage.
“We were on fire and playing the best hockey of the entire season.”
An incredible score of 11-1 exalted the Spitfires to first place and saw them win the championship. This is a remarkable achievement both for the team and the university as a whole.
Gifford, who is also club Treasurer, added, ‘this win is clearly the biggest success of the Club so far. It’s great to see this kind of result after all the time and effort over the years and it’s fantastic to be part of such a talented team. Whether you’re good or bad at sport, you really must not underestimate the positive physical and psychological effect it has on people who get involved.’
The squad wish to thank all their supporters at the tournament and those who followed the final live on Twitter.
The 2011 Squad: Alex Cole, Daniel Lackey, Declan Finn, Dom Lion, Daniel Davies, Niall Quinn, Rhodri Jones, Richard Nembhard, Richard Facey, Ryan Burgess and Christian Cole.
Photo by James Richardson