Varsity 2012: Ice Hockey Preview

After a year of honing their skills, sharpening their skates and clenching their fists, Warwick are once more preparing to take on Coventry in what promises to be another clash of the titans.

For those new to the event, Varsity Ice Hockey is held annually between the two universities that combine to form the Warwick and Coventry Panthers who compete in the BUIHA League. It’s one of the great spectacles of the social calendar, gathering around two thousand spectators at the Coventry Skydome in a carnival of hockey mayhem. Music blares from loudspeakers and the fans bait one another with some of the finest banter witnessed on these shores.

Last year’s match left a beleaguered Warwick team licking its wounds after a last minute defeat to Coventry at the hands of the almost legendary Rikki Bryniarski. Despite being labelled “underdogs” from the start, Warwick had demonstrated their resilience, equalling the Coventry score for most of the game and bagging three superb goals in the process.

To introduce this year’s event, _The Boar_’s **Calum Murray** interviewed Warwick winger **Veit Dinges** about his views of the challenge ahead. Veit, affectionately known as “Dingle Dangles” by his Panthers teammate and Coventry rival Jonathan Stobart, made his Varsity debut last year. His performance in attack was formidable, yet unfortunately he will forever be remembered as “the guy who got the high sticking penalty”, which resulted in a disallowed goal that could have otherwise drawn Warwick level. But we hold no grudges here at Warwick!

Veit, who hails from Bergisch Gladbach in Germany, has no pretensions about the prospect ahead but remains positive, “We’re anticipating a difficult match”, he said, “but I don’t think we’re afraid. People are confident that Warwick have the ability, and even though [Coventry] have a strong offense, this year we have a defence to match”.

What Veit alludes to is Warwick’s considerable experience at the rear, fielding talents such as Matti Konsala and goaltender Daniel Harrison. When asked if Warwick had any key players, Veit replied, “We have an ace up our sleeve, which we can’t disclose at the present time”. However, he added, “we are not dependent on one player – the lines reflect a well balanced and rounded team”. Consequently star players are not important for the Warwick side this year.

However, you should still be on the lookout a few who are likely to stand out on the night. One such player is Tom Hiscock (see below), who was chosen as Man of the Match at last year’s spectacular competition. Hiscock is only in his second year at Warwick, yet has proved himself as a cornerstone member of both the Panthers A team and the Warwick Varsity squad. Teammate Veit described him as “a consistently good player, which the team are grateful for”.

As for the team from Coventry, Veit revealed that relations are surprisingly warm. “There’s respect for the Coventry team, as during the year we are a combined team; there’s no hatred”. However, there’s no doubt that there is a healthy level of rivalry between the two squads. This was made evident through the outbreaks of fighting at Varsity ’11 and the crowd’s roar of “Give us an E! And an E! And another E!…That’s what you need to get into Coventry!”

The crowd, in Veit’s opinion, will perform a crucial role in aiding the Warwick effort: “We need the support of Warwick students. The way the teams stand it should be a very good game and that’s the only way we’ll bring the cup home”.

As far as strategy is concerned, Veit believes Warwick will seek to close out Coventry’s superior forward line: “We’re looking to face Coventry’s offense with our defence and by that I mean even back into the goal crease”, he said. “We’re lucky to have a brilliant goaltender in Daniel Harrison and our offense will be looking to take advantage of their, honestly, quite poor defence.”

Judging by the ambition and hope ahead, it seems that this game will prove to be an explosive start to the Varsity season. Plans have been made for a variety of entertainments during the intermissions as well as the traditional prize raffle. With ticket sales well ahead of last year’s and offers of support from most of the sports clubs, it also looks to be another heavily booked event, hopefully selling out the 3,000-seater Skydome Arena.

Finally, this year sees the premiere of the Varsity Ice Hockey After-Party, to be held in the Terrace Bar. Although details are undisclosed as of yet, there have been rumours of the Terrace Bar being transformed into a Panthers themed sports bar.

So, get your tickets quick to avoid missing what is going to be an extravaganza of blood, sweat and tears, with perhaps a little hockey too!

_Tickets are available through the Warwick SU website as well as from the SU Reception and the Varsity stand in the Piazza. Priced at £4 inclusive of transport there and back from Campus and free entry to the After Party._

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