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A Preview of the Jonny Wookey Memorial Game



The ice hockey team, St Andrews Typhoons, may be the reason for all the heavy winds in St Andrews, as excitement builds for the Jonny Wookey Memorial game on 10th April at the Fife Ice Arena in Kirkcaldy. The St Andrews Typhoons look to defend their previous two victories against the University of Edinburgh Eagles at the annual match. “They are a good team,” says Kenneth Worden, leaning back in his chair. “They had a good year. We won the last two and they will be looking to compete.” The Typhoons are approaching the game with a four-game win streak and hoping to make five, while the Eagles are looking to repeat the victory they had earlier in the season against the Typhoons. It promises to be an exciting match between the two rivals. 


The St Andrews ice hockey team was founded in 2011 and has grown into a network of players and alumni. Still, many St Andrews students and residents are unaware of their presence at the University. “I’d say we are definitely an outlier. Not many people know about us,” says team Captain Tristian Long. “We are kind of the ugly duckling. [We are a] very small club. [We] try to get as much sports spirit to get along with people but it's tough.” Watching the team practice after interviews, it’s hard to tell why they have not gotten overwhelming amounts of fans crowding their games. “Watch it. It’s fantastic,” encourages Andrew Mihal. “Best team to play for. Best team to watch.” They are a boisterous group. Yipping, chirping, and howling across the rink at one another like territorial birds, it’s hard not to find yourself smiling while watching them play.


The team has had many ups and downs this season. They took a big hit this year when they returned after losing a substantial amount of fourth years. “We were a new team, most of us hadn’t played together before,” mentions Thomas Griffith. “It’s just been progress throughout the season. A big thing for us is that we’re all really close.” The team spends a lot of time together on the ice helping to cultivate a friendly dynamic within the team. “We always have a lot of guys that leave and a lot of guys that come on, but our traditions and values remain the same,” says Kenneth. To demonstrate just how close the team is, “I can tell people by their voices. Like I always know when Tristian is calling for the puck. You hang out with them so often it’s automatic,” comments Andrew Benstead. The team spends countless hours together travelling between games and on the ice, but if that wasn’t enough, they also have team dinners and social events every Wednesday. 


The team has been practising with new levels of energy as they approach the big game. “We tend to practise hard and remember what we have been working on,” says Tristian. Practices occur only once a week, so they try to keep it fun and dynamic. They spend the first 45 minutes going through flow drills and honing their skills. The rest of the time they will run through different games and focus on team skills. “I find it meditative when you are on the rink,” says Andrew. They all demonstrate a deep love for the game. Equally, they show adoration for their teammates. “I love these guys,” responds Theo Clinton. “As players, I am always impressed. As mates, they are the best people I could ask for.” The biggest advantage for the team is communication: “[We are] super team based. We are all together talking about the game,” states Lucy McBride. “[We] get together before the game and make sure we have a plan.” 


Players always look forward to playing in the Jonny Wookey game each year. “It’s magical,” says Nikil Mendez with a grin. “It’s quite special. It’s fun to play in front of all your mates and everyone [gets to] see the hard work we have put in.” It is not your average game as the team pulls out all the stops for the big event. There is music, lights, announcements, and “probably the cheapest beers you will find in Fife.” The tickets are £16, and they include transport to the venue, and discounted food, beers, and pitchers.  “It’s always the most fun game,” says Theo, anticipating the excitement of the game. After the game, there is also a party at the Rule. “What’s always fun is the after party as well. It's always loose and fun,” emphasises Nikil. It’s a perfect time for the fans to celebrate all the hard work of the team with the players. It stands out as the highlight of the sporting calendar and a social event you will not want to miss.

 

 

 Image by Derek Young

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