Last Thursday and Friday a big delegation of Studs players drove to Groningen for the NSK (National Student Championship) in Groningen. The players consisted of team Studs 1 and some players for a mixed team, and of course some support. We left Enschede very early Thursday morning at 7 o’clock. I saw a lot of tired faces on the bus, not to mention the hung over ones. First game for Studs 1 started at 9:40 against Saints Nijmegen.
Since we already had beaten the Saints 18-0 in the regular competition we didn’t expect much resistance from this team. We were wrong. The students from Nijmegen had brought some reinforcements from their ex-member address book and were a very though opponent. The Studs failed to keep focused on the game 100% and the Saints proved to be excellent in making the transition between defense and offense and scored a couple of goals on fast breakouts. Also the goalie from Nijmegen was in good shape and appeared to had put some puck magnets in his catching glove. Luckily our offense managed to keep bombarding the goal with shots, especially our Asian Sniper Tony Tran Chau, who chose to play instead of coach the tournament. Final score: 4-3 win for the Studs.
Second game of the day was a bit of a surprise. The mixed team had managed to win from Eindhoven with 2-0 thus going to the next round against us, thanks to a lot of Studs players and some very skilled forwards from Groningen. The mixed team also proved a worthy opponent. The game was quite similar to the game against the Saints, but this time the Studs had woken up and were ready give it all. As result we made a lot less mistakes in the neutral zone and allowed less breakaways from the Mixed Players. Ivar Dorst managed to make a good effort though and flipped the puck over my right shoulder during a break away. I’m glad at least a Slapping Studs player killed my shutout that game.
After the first day went very well it was time to relax. Everybody made themselves comfortable with some beer at the sun deck, since the weather was extraordinarily beautiful that day. After a pasta dinner it was time to go to our sleeping venue, which turned out to be a little theater.
After making our beds the first bar we went to was the Toeter. It was a tight fit with all the students inside but it was a great opportunity to socialize with our fellow hockey players from other towns. A lot of drinking games were invented using the 40 incomplete board games at the bar. Second bar was a disco called the Twister were the Studs danced their socks off that night before getting some authentic Groningen kebab and going to bed. It was a long night for all of us and everybody was crossing their fingers they would be fit tomorrow.
Jurjen van den Hengel, who decided that winning the NSK Cup was more important than practicing with the Lions for the playoff finals (The whole team agreed of course) stayed in Groningen instead of going back to Enschede after the first day. And since we won the Cup and the Lions are 3rd division champions, everybody’s happy Jurjen took the right decision ;)
Due to an unexpected win from Amsterdam against Groningen we had to play Thor at 9.40 h. The Studs proved to be rock stars in the evening and rock stars in morning, by beating Amsterdam in an easy 8-1 game. The defense lines showed that they were able to handle Amsterdam’s newest additions to the team and able to cut off any outbreaks from the team. Our offense lines proved they are the best lines in the student competitions by drowning the Thor goalie in shots and keeping every clearing effort by Thor inside the opposing zone.
After the game we had a lot of time to mentally and physically prepare for the final game (hangover treatment). We had to wait for the other games to know our opponent. The Saints and the Mixed team kept surprising by beating the Bulldogs and the Buccaneers. The Mixed team managed to beat the Saints in the quarter-finals and had to play against Thor in the semi-finals. Thor had contracted some illegal transfer players from Nijmegen, who were already eliminated, and won the game 8-2. That meant that the Studs had to play Amsterdam again in the finals.
Everybody was feeling confident after our first victory and was ready to bring the cup home. But before we could do that we had to beat one of our most underestimated opposing teams. The game was quite similar again to the game against the Saints and the Mixed team. But this time Amsterdam scored the first goal very early in the game and that was quite a mood buster for the Studs. But our offense was like a highly organized killer bee attack on the goal and our defense managed to keep the puck on the good side of the blue lines. Still we weren’t able to score that much. But later in the first period we regained our scoring skills and managed to put a goal behind their well playing goaltender. Amsterdam was still shocked by our tying goal when we already scored the second. But later in the game we lost that dominance. Amsterdam played a quite efficient dump and chase hockey and managed to create some very chaotic situations in front of my net. Result was a close 4-3 lead at the end of the last period. The Studs became tired and Amsterdam played the puck a lot in our own zone. The final became an instant blockbuster when Amsterdam managed to score in the last second of the game on a wrap around. The Studs were mentally crushed by this unexpected disappointment. But we still had a lot of hope. We had a 5 minute sudden death with 4-on-4 play. If we lost this game we would get a rematch of 15 minutes because every team had a second chance after being eliminated. Ignoring that safety net the Studs decided it was time to take that shiny beer keg home. And Erik Ekevik pulled the trigger on a beautiful wrist shot after approximately 3.5 minutes. After that the Studs burst into celebration like they had won the Stanley Cup.
This has been a fantastic year for the Slapping Studs so far. Captain Niels de Boer told the team in his speech how proud he is of the team and its growth since Niels started to play for the Studs, seven years ago. It was a time the Studs lost every game 20-0, but this season we dominated the competition and won the NSK, which we did last in 1999. So winning this tournament was a great way for our captain Niels, Jeroen Hutten, Mark Grouwe, Vladi Woeboekin and Niels Korteling to end their fantastic Studs career. But before that we still have to play our next though tournament in Enschede next Sunday and show them who’s boss!
The three photos above were made by Stefan van der Spek