The Jonny Wookey Memorial Game is an event really like no other in the St Andrean sporting calendar. Over a few short years it has enjoyed an unparalleled rise from a niche occasion populated largely by a combination of Ice Hockey diehards and friends of players, to a firm fixture up there with the likes of the Rugby Varsity match in September; well ingrained in the consciousness of the mainstream student community. This has been in part down to fantastic work by the publicity of the St Andrews Typhoons in getting word of the game out there, as well as a series of victories by the team in the matchup over the past few years that convinced the fans to come back and cheer them on again. This year for sure, the Typhoons will tell you order was restored in the rivalry, as attested by a confident 4-2 victory for the home side, sending their rivals back to the capital empty-handed and making up for their galling defeat in the fixture last year.
As the (figurative) curtain rose on the game’s 2019 edition, it’s safe to say the crowd was in good voice, with many of them enjoying pre-drinks before catching the bus to the outskirts of Dundee. Those fans still by the bar at the start of the first period missed a high-octane start from the ‘Phoons, who should have gone ahead as they were presented with a great chance just outside the goal crease that Edinburgh barely survived. Only after a frantic scramble was the chance finally cleared. That would only prove a harbinger of events to follow however, as a surging run from deep across the rink saw the puck played to Jack Johnson, with the forward slotting in for St Andrews to cue scenes of ecstasy amongst the partisan crowd. This delirium wouldn’t last long however as the goal kicked Edinburgh into action. First goaltender Spencer Caminsky had to be alert to prevent a powerful effort by their forward before they did equalise at the end of the period; a break that wasn’t picked up by the ‘Phoons eventually leading to an alert finish to bring the visitors level.
Buoyed by their finish to the first period, Edinburgh pushed hard for the lead and could easily have gained it, the post denying them early on. They would be left to rue this opportunity however as the rest of the second period belonged almost exclusively to St Andrews. It was to be Chase McCarthy, with his 18th goal of the season, who got the hosts back in front with a rasping drive that was only awarded after deliberation from the officials as to whether it did cross the goal line (replays showed it was clearly in) before a few minutes later Charlie Whiteley doubled the ‘Phoons’ advantage from a clinical counter-attack. This put St Andrews well on top, and the already well-oiled masses in the stands certainly had much to cheer.
The hosts were well on top at the beginning of the third period too, looking for that killer score that would put the matchup to bed. They first came close through a strike that rattled the top of the goal and then a loose Edinburgh pass that was nearly turned in. They were made to regret these missed opportunities though as Edinburgh turned home a cross from the right hand side and then came very close to an equaliser with nine minutes left. This was proving to be a more nervy finish than some may have anticipated at the break between the second and third periods. True to form though, the ‘Phoons weren’t to be denied. It was fresher Nick Falicia, who ended the debate as he pounced on a loose puck and converted to give St Andrews a priceless fourth goal and allow them to play out the rest of the match savouring the support, as fervent as always, from the raucous crowd.
All in all, this was an occasion that more than delivered. For the fans, as they filed back en masse to KY16 – and many to a highly enjoyable after party in The Vic – a great and largely cost-effective evening had been enjoyed, fan behaviour was also almost impeccable – there was to be no beer throwing or player heckling that sadly became a feature of previous iterations of the match. More pertinently though, the Typhoons warmed up for what could prove to be an extremely memorable National Championship weekend in the best possible fashion.