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01st March 2009

Exeter Students Power University Ice Hockey Team to Success

Written by Julian de Hoog

The Oxford University Mens Blues ice hockey squad is having a tremendous season this year, thanks in no small part to Exeter students Landis Stankievech and Julian de Hoog. Julian, in his fourth year on the squad, is this year’s team captain and Landis, in only his first year, has taken over coaching responsibilities and is playing centre on the first line.

Unbeknownst to most, the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry is the oldest of its kind in the sport of ice hockey, with the first match having taken place in 1885. In this year’s instalment on 7 March, Oxford came out on top, 4:2, to win its fifth consecutive Varsity crown. Landis scored two and set up both of the other Oxford goals, rightfully earning him overall man-of-the-match honours.

The win against Cambridge was the Blues’ final regular season match, in a season that saw them go 8-0 for their first undefeated season since joining the BUIHA, Britain’s top level of university ice hockey. Having clinched the UK South title, the Blues are now due to play against the University of Nottingham on April 19 for the title of national champion.

On the international stage, the Oxford Blues recently returned from an annual international universities’ tournament in Fuessen, Germany, where they were pitted against top university teams from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. Following round-robin victories over Innsbruck (7:0) and defending champion Munich (5:2), the Blues faced Swiss team St. Gallen in the semi-final and won 3:0. In an exciting final against Prague, the Blues came back from a 4:1 deficit to come within one goal of tying, but a frantic finish didn’t lead to the necessary goal and Prague won 4:3. Nevertheless, second place in a tournament of nine teams was a very strong placement for Oxford in their first appearance at the tournament.

It has been an incredible run for the Blues, and a national title, if won on April 19, would be the first for this team in more than half a century. With Landis, Julian, and several additional key players returning for another season next year, there is great potential for further success yet.

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