Just four days remain before seven members of the Nottingham Lions squad take to the ice in front of a 7000-strong capacity crowd for the annual Ice Hockey Varsity Challenge match at the Capital FM Arena.

To celebrate one of the biggest, annual sporting occasions in the city, the National Ice Centre and the Nottingham Lions have joined forces to announce a fantastic offer for all students and spectators who will be in attendance at next week’s game.

Details of the offer will not be announced until the doors open at the Capital FM Arena on Monday evening – all we can currently say is don’t forget to check your seat when you arrive and keep the evening of Sunday 24th February free!


Matt Bradbury (left) will be coaching the Trent team whilst his counterpart Simon Hopkins (right) will be directing from the Nottingham bench.

This years match-up between Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham will take place on Monday 18th February (7.30pm face off) and is organised by the Lions’ Assistant Coach and University of Nottingham employee Simon Hopkins; who will also be coaching the UoN side, whilst fellow Lions coach Matt Bradbury will be taking up a guest coaching role on the Trent team bench.

All the players on show normally ice together as members of the Nottingham Mavericks, a team which compromises of players from both universities, but once a year their roster is split into two teams which compete against each other in this one-off game, as part of a series of fifteen events including American Football, Rugby, Netball and Football. The University that gains the most wins from all the events is then crowned 2013 champions and takes home the coveted Varsity Trophy.

Representing for Trent this year will be right-winger and assistant captain; Gareth O’Flaherty alongside Ryan Rathbone, Jamie Hovell and Canadian forward Jose Leon. They will be taking on their Lions counterparts; Jack Baveystock, Christy Johnson-Brown and American import Luke Branin, who will all be icing for Nottingham along with former Lions; Richard Griffiths, Jack Clarkson and Paul Whitby.

Last year’s event raised thousands of pounds for the Cerebral Palsy Sport charity and saw Trent emerge victorious after a thrilling 7-5 victory with the Lions’ O’Flaherty grabbing the game-winning goal midway through the third period.


Lions winger Gareth O’Flaherty celebrates scoring Trent’s game-winning goal in last year’s clash.

This year’s game, which still remains the biggest varsity ice hockey match outside of North America, is in aid of Headway; a local charity branch which provides a diverse range of social, leisure and educational activities. Their outreach service offers practical support to families, supporting people to come to terms with the change in lifestyle following brain injury.

The game is now sold out but don’t forget there is also a pre-skating session with the players on the hallowed CapitalFM Arena pad before-hand. This takes place between 5:15-6:15pm and costs just £3 (including skate hire) with all proceeds going to the Nottingham Mavericks club.

The varsity clash is just the beginning of what is being dubbed ‘Ice Hockey Week’ in the city with the Nottingham Panthers hosting on local rivals Sheffield Steelers on Friday 22nd before the Lions take on Hull Stingrays at the NIC on Sunday 24th (7.15pm face off).


Thursday, 14 February 2013.