As we enter 2017 and resume the hockey season, the OUIHC look back on a hugely successful 2016 and list ten highlights from the 131st year of Oxford ice hockey.

 

  1. Alumni Gala, Relations & Hockey Hall of Fame

In May, the OUIHC hosted the inaugural Alumni Gala, with current members and alumni from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s Men’s Blues, Women’s Blues and Vikings teams gathering in Oxford to celebrate the past, present and future of the Club. Attendees enjoyed an Alumni Match at the Oxford Ice Rink, followed by a dinner at Hertford College and drinks at the Vincent’s Club. At the event, members of the Men’s Blues were awarded with Full Blues, the highest sporting University accolade, awarded based on Varsity Match performance against Cambridge University. A special thanks to alumni, Bill Hunter (’60) and John Cathro (’93) for visiting the Blues during the season and sharing their stories of Oxford Ice Hockey.

A highlight of 2016 was the acceptance of the Oxford ice hockey jersey into the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHoF) in Toronto, Canada. The Oxford jersey has had a similar design for over 5o years: dark blue and white stripes with ‘Oxford’ emblazoned on the front. The distinct club logo of OUIHC, originally the front of the jersey in the 20s and 30s, has been moved to the shoulders. The donated jersey belonged to Joanna Palermo (University College, ’10) in recognition of her tireless work and leadership during her tenancy as Club President and Women’s Blues captain. The strides she made to bring the Club and its teams to unity has enabled ice hockey to survive and go on to flourish as an increasingly popular sport within the Oxford University sporting scene.

Photo (top): The Oxford Women’s Blues and their alumni at the Alumni Gala 2016

Photo (middle):  Left to right: Jack Woods, Tim Donnison (2015 -16 Blues captain), Bill Hunter (Corpus Christi College, ’60, and ’62 Blues Captain), Julian Brave Noisecat, and Trent Taylor (current OUIHC Historian).

Photo (bottom): OUIHC Alumni at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Left to right: Gary Lawrence (St. Edmund Hall, ’81), Carolyn Scott (St. Catherine’s College, ’11), Joanna Palermo (University College, ’10), Aaron Polos (Balliol College, ’13)

 

 

 

  1. OUIHC Featured in The Canadian Encyclopedia and 90thof the Spengler Cup

2016 not only saw the celebration of OUIHC’s recent history and success, it also provided the opportunity to look back on the Oxford teams of OUIHC’s infant years and the legacy the Club established in the development of U.K. and European ice hockey. The OUIHC Historian, Trent Taylor, and 2015 Alumni Officer, Alan Keeso, co-authored a historical account of OUIHC in The Canadian Encyclopedia, through a collaboration between OUIHC and Historica Canada. The full article can beread here. At the end of 2016, the OUIHC featured in the 90th edition of the Spengler Cup (here). The advent of this European tournament was in 1923 in Davos, Switzerland. During their annual winter tour and road to the Varsity Match, the Oxford University team entered the inaugural Spengler Cup tournament and were crowned the tournament’s first champions after beating Berliner Schlittschuhclub in the final. Since 1923, the OUIHC have gone on to win the three more times, in 1925, 1931, and sharing the title with LTC Prague in 1932. The Spengler Cup is now an international fixture, with Canada winning the 2016-17 tournament on New Year’s Eve, beating HC Lugano in the final, 5-2 – Canada’s 14th Spengler Cup championship.

 

Photo (top): Former Alumni Officer, Alan Keeso (Green Templeton College, ’13) and President & CEO of Historica Canada, Anthony Wilson-Smith.

Photo (bottom): The OUIHC 1951-54.

 

  1. Vikings Return

The 2015-16 season saw the return of the Oxford Vikings to league play. The team had been on a 1-year hiatus to help re-establish and replenish the OUIHC Blues squad, which had been absent from 2012-14 league play. The reinstatement of an Oxford University Blues team in 2014, and the return of the Oxford Vikings in 2015-16 has enabled the men’s contingent of OUIHC to recruit players of all abilities. This system is key to the long-term development of men’s ice hockey at the University and provides a pipeline of progression for students to reach the Blues Varsity squad.

Photo: The 2016-17 Oxford Vikings 

 

  1. Varsity Domination for Oxford Women’s Blues

As one of the longest-standing rivalries in women’s ice hockey, the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Match (est.1981) is the highlight of the Oxbridge ice hockey season. Students train several times a week, on and off the ice, throughout Michaelmas and Hilary Term in the hope of defeating historic rivals Cambridge, at the end of Hilary Term in March. A normally closely-contested annual contest, the past three years have witnessed Oxford domination in this fixture – an accumulative score of 52-2. The 2016 Varsity Match score was 17-1. The 2016-17 Women’s Blues are training hard to achieve their fourth consecutive win over Cambridge, scheduled to take place on Sunday 5th March, 2017.

Photo: The 2015-16 Oxford Women’s Blues (with alumni), after winning the 2016 Varsity Match, 17-1.

 

  1. Men’s Blues finish 2nd in top university hockey division

The British University Ice Hockey Association, BUIHA, has seen substantial growth of participating university teams and players in student ice hockey. In parallel with this surge of ice hockey popularity in U.K. universities, the standard of the teams has increased. Regularly one of the top university teams in the country, the Oxford University Blues (OUIHC Men’s Blues) 2016 campaign saw the team finish second in the league, two points behind Cambridge who finished first. In addition, the Blues success extended beyond league play, to the BUIHA National Championships and the European Tour.

 

  1. Oxford Men’s Blues: National Champions

The Blues entered the annual National Championship in Sheffield, with a winning record. The Oxford team took the weekend tournament by storm, outscoring Northern Champions, the Nottingham Mavericks, 6-3, and topping the group table with 3 wins and 1 draw. The semi-final match-up against St. Andrew’s saw shootout dramatics swing in favour of Oxford. The final against three-time defending champions, the Southampton Spitfires, tested the Dark Blues against the best in the country. Oxford came up triumphant in a 5-1 win, showcasing their skill and tenacity in a hard-fought win to seal their first BUIHA Division 1 National Championship.

Photo: The Oxford University Blues (OUIHC Men’s Blues) won the BUIHA Division 1 National Championship on April 23-24th, 2016.

 

  1. Tour team of Men’s and Women’s Blues

The 2016 European Tour saw members of the OUIHC Men’s Blues and Women’s Blues head to lake Bled in Slovenia. Located on the eastern slopes of the Alps, this get-away provided the perfect opportunity for team bonding, exploring Europe and tournament hockey. The Blues went 1 win and 2 losses in the Bled Cup tournament but took the win against a local Bled team in an exhibition match on the closing night of tour. Utilising the free time outside of term and touring with OUIHC creates the memories that stay with the players long after they have left Oxford — 2016 was no different.

 

 

Photo (top): A picturesque photo of Lake Bled looking towards the town of Bled and the Slovenian Alps. Taken from a boat, rented by some players, to row to the chapel on the small island in the middle of Lake Bled.

Photo (bottom): The Oxford University Blues tour team after beating their Finnish opponents, 3-1, in the final group game of the Bled Cup 2016.

  1. Work in the Community

Prior to start of the 2016-17 season, the OUIHC played a pre-season charity match against the Royal Air Force (R.A.F. Bluewings). In a back-and-forth affair, the Oxford team took a narrow 8-5 win. The true winners were the charities, KEEN and the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust (R.A.F.C.T.), who were the beneficiaries of the total fundraising effort and awareness around the event. KEEN, which stands for Kids Enjoy Exercise Now, work to provide opportunities for sport involvement and development of social and life skills for children, adolescents, and adults with mental and physical impairments. The R.A.F.C.T. work to support R.A.F. personnel and their families, encourage air-mindedness, and the aviation-related education of the youth. A match report can be read in the student newspaper, Cherwell.

Photo: An example of a publicity post in the buildup to the Oxford University V. R.A.F. Charity Match, in order to raise money and awareness for the teams’ chosen charities.

 

  1. Finalist for Club of the Year

In recognition of the OUIHC’s continued success in the university leagues and in the University’s sporting scene, the OUIHC was shortlisted for the Club of the Year award at the annual Sports Federation awards night. Having won this award in 2015, a second finalist nomination (although, not winning) pays testament to the progress the OUIHC has made over the past several seasons, and the work ethic, passion, and tenacity of the Club’s many Executive Committees that have made the Club function year-in, year out. Honourable mention to OUIHC’s other shortlisted nomination at the awards night – Lisa Choi – who was up for Atalantas’ Teammate of the Year award.

Photo: Former Oxford Women’s Blues coach, James Buchanan Smith, and Oxford Women’s Blues alumnae, Kaylie Smith (Linacre College, ’13), with the Oxford University Sports Club of the Year award. The OUIHC won the award in 2015.

 

  1. Full Blues status for both Blues teams

The 2015-16 saw the first time in Oxford’s ice hockey history, that both the Men’s and Women’s Blues teams have held Discretionary Full Blue Status, the second highest Blues Status a Blues team can reach. In 2016, this enabled six Full Blues to be awarded to the top Men’s Blues players for their performances in the Varsity Match (despite a 3-1 loss to the Tabs). With the exception of an Extraordinary Full Blue award in 2015 (a one-off, separate application to the Blues Committees), these were the first Full Blues awarded to OUIHC men since the 2011-2012 season. The status of both Blues teams enables the top male and female student hockey players to be recognised by the University for their sporting prowess, joining a list of accomplished hockey-academics that dates back to 1933.

 

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