Category: Match report – Full

September 22nd, 2015 by Nancy Carpenter

Sunday’s game between Oxford City Stars and Wightlink Raiders was an edge-of-the-seat thriller that ended in a 2-2 tie. It will probably be seen as a point won by Stars and a point lost by Raiders in terms of their season ambitions – but it was certainly an exciting game for fans to watch and a showcase of netminding at both ends. Ben Ealey-Newman and Joe Edwards got the goals for Oxford while Craig Tribe and Matthew Lawday were on target for Wightlink.

Last weekend, Raiders were rampant in their own rink, punishing defensive errors and showing real class in their passing and finishing to give Stars a 7-2 drubbing.  But Stars were buoyed after taking both points in a thrilling 15-goal game against London last Sunday while Wightlink arrived reeling from a bad 7-3 home defeat to Chelmsford Chieftains the day before.

Even worse for the Raiders, their star import Jaroslav Cesky had lost his temper just after the final whistle and earned himself a match penalty (and the resulting suspension) for cross-checking and were also without young defenceman Jordan Gregory. Stars meanwhile were still missing Alan Green due to his back injury and also had defenceman Tom Avery and forward Mike Whillock unavailable.

The game started quickly and both netminders were called into action within the first 30 seconds in some immediate end to end action.  Then with just 44 seconds on the clock, Oxford’s Steve Osman and Wightlink’s Robert Streetly had what was little more than a shoving match in front of the Oxford goal – the ref was clearly in no mood for this and sent both into the penalty boxes on 2+2 roughing calls.

2015-09-20 Wightlink1 (Paul Foster)Oxford were the first to get off the scoring mark with a powerplay goal from Ealey-Newman after Danny Rose took a hooking minor.  The move started with a blue-line slapshot from Shane Moore that was tipped towards net by Steve Osman.  Matty Colclough in the Wightlink net made a superb save to deny Osman but he couldn’t stop Ealey-Newman from pouncing on the rebound and sliding it home.

2015-09-20 Wightlink7 (Paul Foster)Joe Edwards had a half chance a few minutes later after he intercepted a poor clearance from the Raiders zone but he had no support as Stars had2015-09-20 Wightlink5 (Paul Foster) been skating back for the expected Raiders attack and he was converged on by three Raiders players and couldn’t find a way through. Seconds later though he was able to get hold of a Nick Oliver pass
who was just able to get the puck out before being pulled down by a Wightlink defenceman. Edwards was able to dance around the remaining defenceman and beat Colclough on the glove side to double Oxford’s lead.

Raiders seemed to wake up at that point and Connor Ranby in the Oxford net was suddenly very busy, defending against first a goalmouth scramble and then making a brave move, putting his body on the line, to take the puck from Wightlink’s player/coach Jeremy Cornish in the crease.

Just before the 14 minute mark in the game, it was Raider’s turn on the powerplay after Andy Cox was given 2 minutes for slashing.  Raiders wasted no time in capitalising on their man advantage scoring just 6 seconds into the powerplay. In a repeat of the Stars’ first goal, Ranby made an initial save from a Brendan Baird shot through traffic but could not stop Craig Tribe from putting away the rebound.  The rest of the period continued with chances at both ends but neither side able to convert and the period ended 2-1.

Raiders came out of the second period flying, clearly having had some strong words said to them in the changing room by coach Cornish. An onslaught on the Stars net commenced but 2015-09-20 Wightlink3 (Paul Foster)Raiders simply could not find a way past Ranby. Stars defenceman Joe Oliver also made a superb defensive move to cut out a pass on a 2-on-1 chance, stretching full length on the ice he was just able to get a stick to the puck and deflect the pass out of the zone.  Stars were able to withstand the onslaught and after 5 minutes of constant pressure got back into the game and started creating chances of their own again. Stars then had 3 more powerplay chances when Nick Compton (interference), Chris Cooke and Baird (both holding) took successive penalties but were unable to capitalise. Raiders also had a further chance when Josh Florey was called for slashing but Stars penalty kill unit was working hard and also denied them.

Raiders finally got themselves even once the game was back to even strength and it was a super move.  A cracking pass from Corey Watkins across the neutral zone found Matthew2015-09-20 Wightlink4 (Paul Foster) Lawday flying down the wing.  He deked the sole Stars defenceman (Arnold), then had a lovely finish to slide to puck into the corner of the net just out of reach of Ranby’s desperate glove.  More penalties were exchanged just before the end of the period with Oxford’s Cox (holding the stick) receiving his second, closely followed by Ingoldsby (roughing) and Jake Florey (delay of game – dislodging the net), leaving the Raiders on a rare 4-on-3 man advantage for the last few seconds of the period.

The third started with all three penalties still on the clock and despite the open play available with so few players on the ice, no real chances. Once the play returned to 5-on-5 the game seemed to flow better and both keepers were kept busy. Alex Sampford for Raiders came close but his final shot was under pressure from an Oxford d-man and Ranby was able to make a comfortable save. Edwards, who had looked dangerous all night also had a shot saved and then later made a quality short pass to a flying Dax Hedges but Hedges couldn’t quite find Nick Oliver with his final pass and the Raiders were able to clear.

More penalties followed and powerplays were traded between the sides with Josh Oliver (2+10 – checking to the head) and Danny Rose (roughing) each seeing the inside of the penalty box but the netminders had clearly used the period break to reattach the cling film across their 2015-09-20 Wightlink2 (Paul Foster)goals and let nothing past them.

The last 10 minutes of the game was full of breathless end to end action with both sides desperate to find the winning goal and deny the other team a share of the points. With just over 3 minutes left on the clock, the ref indicated a delayed penalty against Oxford and Raiders had about 30 seconds of controlling the puck with an additional attacker on the ice replacing Colclough but were unable to find a way through.  However, they had drawn a further slash from Cox during that passage of play meaning he joined Steve Osman, who’s original hooking call was the reason for the delayed penalty and Stars had to face 2 minutes of a 2-man disadvantage with just under 3 minutes left on the period.

Stars took a quick time-out to organise their defence and whatever coach Simon Anderson said, clearly worked as Oxford proceeded to give a master-class in how to defend a 3-on-5. Shane Moore, Joe Oliver and Josh Florey were somehow able to be everywhere in the Stars zone, cutting down the angles of attack for Wightlink, giving Ranby in nets the chance to see the puck coming when Raiders did manage to get a shot away and occasionally getting the puck out of the zone and forcing a reset for Wightlink.  After a minute Sam Arnold and Nick Oliver joined Moore for the second half of the kill and continued in exactly the same vein. Raiders were limited to one really good chance through the whole 2 minutes but Ranby denied that with a big save to keep the Stars level.

Raiders themselves called a time-out when there was just 1 second left on the powerplay, which seemed a little pointless but was perhaps for Cornish to keep them focused and making sure that a Stars team buoyed by the fantastic penalty kill didn’t nick a goal at the end.  In fact Stars had the final chance of the game when Nick Oliver sent a pass across goal but it was just ahead of Darren Elliott who couldn’t connect and the game ended 2-2.

2015-09-20 Wightlink6 (Paul Foster)For me it was a fair result – either team could have won it but the netminding showcased at both ends was excellent and it was an even end to end game that was a real advert for hockey.  Stars were much improved on the previous weekend and the defensive errors that plagued them appeared to have been drastically reduced. Wightlink were not the same side as the previous weekend, seeming a little lack-lustre, they were clearly missing Cesky more than perhaps they should have given the quality of the other players in the team.

MOTM went to Colclough in the Raiders net and to Dax Hedges for Oxford.

Oxford: Ealey-Newman 1+0, Edwards 1+0, Nick Oliver 0+1, Osman 0+1. Ranby 51 shots (96.1%)

Wightlink: Tribe 1+0, Lawday 1+0, Paynter 0+1, Baird 0+1, Watkins 0+1. Colclough 51 shots (96.1%)

Posted in Match report - Full

September 16th, 2015 by Nancy Carpenter

Oxford City Stars put their disappointment from Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Wightlink Raiders behind them as they emerged victorious in an 8-7 thriller over rivals London Raiders.  The Stars had to come back from a 4-1 deficit and then again from being 6-4 down before coming out as winners.

This game had a fair bit of hype about it after last seasons clashes at Oxpens Road included the infamous brawl which saw the game abandoned at 9-7 with seven seconds left on the clock and then just 2 weeks later saw a superb 2-2 tie which was a credit to both teams and a great advertisement for NIHL1 hockey.  Both teams had strengthened over the summer and had a lot of new faces, with lines still looking to gel and getting used to playing with each other.  London had also lost the day before in a 7-4 defeat by Streatham Redskins, so both teams were looking for their first points of the league campaign.

Oxford were quick off the mark, with Darren Elliott scoring a breakaway goal in the2015-09-13 London3 (Stu widdows) first minute after a superb pass from Steve Osman saw him cleanly past the London defence. That goal should have finally put his Chelmsford demons to rest after missing the net in an almost identical situation on the last minute of Oxford’s 2014/15 campaign.  London Raiders response was to pile on the pressure and they then scored 4 goals in less than 10 minutes…  The first after a defensive error on the London blueline let Liam Chong free to bear down on net – Connor Ranby in the Oxford goal was able to stop the shot but Mason Webster was able to slot home the rebound. Sebastian Downey got their second, again from a rebound as Stars failed to clear the puck.  For the third, Chong really showed his class after a brilliant move down the wing saw a turn of speed that allowed him to fly past the Oxford defence before he turned in front of goal and slid the puck under the knee of Ranby. London Import Oravec then made it 4-1 after a pass from Jack Cooper saw him shoot one past Ranby on the glove side and Oxford were looking in trouble with only 15 minutes of the game played.

In season’s past, I have seen Oxford teams give up at this point.  However, coach Simon Anderson has clearly put together a team that has a bit more grit this year and Stars clearly decided that they were not done yet.  Just 18 seconds after the restart, Elliott received another great pass from Osman and sent a shot flying past Michael Gray in the London Net to bring it back to 4-2 and then 2 minutes later Oxford got it back to 4-3 when a Tom Avery slapshot from the blue line was tipped in by Ben Ealey-Newman. Just after the restart, Shane Moore and Marek Nahlik got into it 2015-09-13 London5 (Stu widdows)behind the Stars goal. The fight itself was nothing unusual, until Webster decided to intervene and then Osman went in to stop Webster. Both players were given a game misconduct for ‘3rd man in’ and the original combatants also picked up 2+2 each for the original fight. The period ended with no further action, but fans from both sides were already buzzing with what they had seen so far.

Oxford started the second period quickly again, in a marked improvement to yesterday when they came out after the first period looking flat. Ealey-Newman2015-09-13 London1 (Stu widdows) showed why he is being talked about so much in Oxford as he grabbed his second after demonstrating great hands to slither around a London d-man before letting the puck go to fly past Gray’s shoulder into the net.  Stars were back on level terms at 4-4.  London didn’t like that though and quickly grabbed two more goals themselves.  The first was on a Stars powerplay after Downing received a hooking minor: despite being short-handed, Chong lurked on the Stars blue line and when the puck came out of the London zone he was able to defeat Ranby in a 1-on-0 2015-09-13 London6 (Stu widdows)breakaway.  Raider’s 6th goal came after a mistake from Ranby after he came out of his crease to try and stop Chong again but was unable to smother the puck and Nahlik was able to pick up the loose puck and slide it into the empty goal with ease.

Stars quickly came back and within a minute had got the game back to 6-5 when Josh Oliver scored after getting the puck mid-ice from an Andy Cox pass then preceding to  dancing round the Raiders’ defence and deking Gray before calmly slotting the puck home. There were no more goals in the second period but it was hardly short of action and had fans from both sides roaring with excitement as the teams took it in turns to have good chances.  Ranby who had looked tentative during the first half of the second period, especially after the mistake that cost Stars the Nahlik goal seemed to grow in confidence and was able to block out the abuse from the Raiders’ fans, making several good saves including multiple rebounds.  At the other end Gray was also called into action when Andrew Magee, Elliott and Josh Florey combine well and again when Josh Florey got a short handed breakaway when Dax Hedges was called for a high-sticking minor.

The third period started with Oxford on the penalty kill after Josh Oliver’s elbows got him into trouble just before the break. Raiders were unable to capitalise although Gray did need to show off his footwork after Mike Whillock lost an edge and went sliding into him – Gray simply hopped over him though much to the amusement of both sets of fans. Once the penalty was killed off both teams were pushing hard and trying to punish the defensive errors which had plagued both sides and were continuing with almost clockwork regularity. It was Oxford who managed to grab the next goal on the 46-minute mark after a Josh Florey slapshot from the top of the circles defeated Gray.  It was a lovely shot, but I suspect Gray will want it back as he had plenty of time to see it and probably should have done better.

2015-09-13 London7 (Stu widdows)At this point game started to feel a bit like a pressure cooker that might explode at any time.  There seemed to be a scuffle between players after virtually every whistle. No penalties were called and with both teams giving everything, there was a sense that the game was being slowed down in order for players to get their breath back! Both netminders were also being called into action time after time with spells of pressure from both teams, as the knowledge that the next goal really was crucial at this point. With just under 7 minutes to go, it was Whillock who broke the deadlock after receiving the puck from Joe Edwards and Stars were ahead for the first time since the 6th minute of the game.  London were not done yet though and just 30 seconds later Downing, a highly rated 18 year old who had been excellent all game equalised to make it 7-7 after being given space in front of Oxford’s net to pick his spot and bag his second goal of the game.

With just 5 minutes to go, Raiders players were incensed after a Darren Elliott hit on Chong which they felt was less than clean. The ref didn’t have an issue with it though and Moore, who should have known better, tried to call out one of the Raiders players for a fight.  When he chose not to react, Moore then made ‘chicken wings’ actions and was rightly given a misconduct for incitement. Moore had been excellent all game for the Stars and this was foolish from him – with the game balanced so tenderly, loosing him for the rest of the game could have been costly for the Stars.

Both teams continued to push for the winner and it was Stars that got their 8th goal. Tom Avery with a speculative wrist shot at goal was probably a bit surprised to see it go in as Gray definitely should have done better, having plenty of time to see it.  A 2015-09-13 London2 (Stu widdows)delighted Avery certainly didn’t care how or why though!  London threw everything to try and get the winner and with just over 2 minutes to go, tension was further heightened when Elliott took a board penalty leaving Oxford to see out all but the last 3 seconds of the period on the penalty kill. London piled on the pressure, also pulling off Gray with 35 seconds to go in order to gain the extra attacker and Stars players were literally throwing themselves in front of the puck.  Ranby was certainly very busy during the final spell and had one really excellent save as he palmed away a Chong slapshot.  The save was especially impressive as the shot had come through traffic and I am not sure how much time Ranby had to see it.

Oxford just did enough though and saw out the pressure and the period to finish the game as 8-7 winners.  The celebrations at the end of the game clearly showed how much it had meant to the team and their delighted fans.

Overall it was a gutsy performance from Oxford – coming back twice to level the game before getting their noses in front.  The last few minutes also showed their commitment to keeping ahead as bodies were put on the line by several players in order to protect Ranby in net from an onslaught. London Raiders can also take heart 2015-09-13 London4 (Stu widdows)from the game as some of their new players, especially young Seb Downing, showed real promise and the excellent Liam Chong looked dangerous all night and will certainly be a superstar for them this season.  Both teams will be looking to cut out the defensive errors which plagued them though – and both teams could do with reminding players to cut out the really silly penalties that don’t need to be taken.

MOTM beers went to Chong for Raiders and Avery for Stars.  My pick would actually have been Downing for Raiders and Ealey-Newman for Stars, but I don’t massively disagree with either choice either!

Fans from both sides will be looking forward to the rest of the games between these sides. If the rest of them are as exciting as this one was then supporters will be in for a real treat!

Oxford: Ealey-Newman 2+1, Elliott 2+0, Josh Oliver 1+1, Whillock 1+1, Avery 1+1, Josh Florey 1+0, Osman 0+2, Cox 0+2, Edwards 0+2, Ranby 60 shots (88.3%).

London: . Chong 2+0, Downing 2+0, Oravec 1+0, Nahlik 1+0, Webster 1+0, Chittock 0+1, Cooper 0+1, Davis 0+1. Gray 60 shots (86.7%)

Posted in Match report - Full

September 15th, 2015 by Nancy Carpenter

So we finally kicked off the league season for Oxford City Stars.  First up was a trip  to the Isle of Wight where Stars faced last season’s playoff champions Wightlink Raiders and it certainly showed us the difference in standards in the leagues following last weekend’s thumping of NIHL2 Haringey Racers.  Stars were solidly beaten 7-2 in a game that had action and controversy aplenty.

Like Stars, Raiders have seen quite a few changes this summer and welcomed 8 new faces to the team. Wightlink are generally accepted to be one of the teams in the league with a substantial budget and will be expected to challenge for the league title this season.

The first period started at a fairly breakneck pace with both sides testing each other and chances being made at both ends. A roughing penalty from Ben Ealey-Newman in the 8th 2015-09-12 wightlink5 (Nicky Craft)minute gave Wightlink an early chance on the powerplay.  Stars penalty kill was working well though and although there were chances for the home team they were not allowed to set up in Oxford’s end and put any real pressure on.  Stars then had a chance to go on the attack themselves with a man advantage when Corey Watkins was given 2 minutes for charging, but this time it was Wightlink who showed how a good penalty kill should be done.  Josh Florey did force a good save from netminder Matty Colclough in the dying seconds of the penalty with a great slapshot from the top of the circles but otherwise Raiders stopped them from creating any genuine chances.

The period continued with both sides creating chances but both keepers looking solid and turning everything away.  That was until about 2 minutes to go when Raiders newcomer Alex Sampford found the back of Oxford’s net with a fantastic shot that flew past the shoulder of netminder Shannon Long.  Just 9 seconds later Raiders doubled their lead when Danny Ingoldsby netted after combining with Jaroslav Cesky and Craig Tribe in a blink and you missed it move from the faceoff.  Oxford continued to battle for the remainder of the period with Ealey Newman forcing a good save from Colclough after a lovely pass from Steve Osman but were unable to find the back of the net and the period ended 2-0.

In the second period, Raiders came out of the blocks flying while Stars seemed to be still 2015-09-12 wightlink2 (Nicky Craft)reeling from the 2 goals late in the first. The opening shifts were dominated by the Raiders but they were unable to do more than force a tripping penalty from Darren Elliott which was killed off well again by the Stars.  Shortly afterwards a defensive error on the Stars blue line saw them turn the puck over and let Watkins through.  He made no mistake and made it 3-0.

Dax Hedges then said something he shouldn’t about the referee’s ability to call an offside accurately and was given a 10 minute personal misconduct for abuse of official leaving Stars to rejig the lines.  Raiders looked that they had shifted up a gear and were putting a lot of pressure on the Oxford net, forcing several fine saves from their old team mate Shannon Long. Their fourth goal then came at around the halfway mark of the game after Long had made an initial save from Tribe but was unable to stop ingoldsby from slotting home the rebound.  Stars were given a chance a second powerplay just afterwards when Long went for a puck at the side boards and Raiders’ Aaron Edwards forgot that goalies are not fair game regardless of where they are on the ice. The ensuing scuffle also saw Stars’ Elliott and Raiders Ben Paynter take conincidental roughing minors. Less than 30 seconds later Tribe was also given a hooking minor and Stars had a 2 man advantage. The powerplay looked very good with Stars testing Colclough several times, but the Raiders netminder seemed to have clingfilm across his net and Stars could not find a way through,

Stars seemed to pick up the pace and started to match Raiders break for break with a real end to end game entertaining the crowd.  Andrew Magee came close with a shot that rebounded off Colclough’s head and dropped onto the line, but the whistle was blown for a headshot before anyone could just push it over.  Just before the end of the period Raiders finally put the 2015-09-12 wightlink3 (Nicky Craft)game out of Stars reach when crisp passing between Danny Rose and Nick Compton found player/coach Jeremy Cornish who matched the passing with an excellent shot to make it 5-0.  They nearly made it six in the final minute of the period when another defensive error from Stars saw Ryan Webb on the breakaway – but Long was able to make a good stop to deny him. Long was then rather bizarrely given a 10 minute misconduct for illegal equipment (apparently for removing his helmet during the break in play).  This was the final action of the second period and Stars players must have been wondering what they had to do to beat Colclough who had been superb in goal so far.

Oxford came out after the second break seemingly determined not to throw in the towel and finally made the breakthrough in the first minute.  Ealey-Newman fired off a shot from a Josh Oliver pass to beat Colclough and find the back of the net – much to the relief of the Stars fans who were starting to think they would see the team shutout in their opening game.  Stars seemed to be lifted by realising that Colclough was actually beatable and started to put further good pressure on the net.  Josh Oliver also managed to beat the keeper but sadly not the goalpost and saw his shot deflect off the metalwork.  The momentum was halted though when Hedges took a tripping penalty, putting Stars back on the penalty kill.  Yet again the PK unit was pretty solid and apart from a couple of low percentage ones, Raiders were denied any solid chances to make it 6 and Stars actually came close to getting their second when a lovely pass from Magee found Osman in the slot but he was unable to find the target.

2015-09-12 wightlink1 (Nicky Craft)Oxford then had their own chance at a powerplay, including about 45 seconds with a 2-man advantage as first Tribe (holding) and then Watkins (tripping) were sent to the bin but Wightlink had clearly also been practising their PK as Stars were unable to make anything of the opportunity. Another Wightlink penalty was given with just over 8 minutes to go when Ben Paynter was caught hooking and Ealey-Newman was able to capitalise this time and scored a peach of a goal after excellent work from the whole line to get the puck into the zone, pass it around and then find Ealey-Newman in space.  With less than 7 minutes remaining, Stars still had a mountain to climb in order to try and get anything from the game and it wasn’t helped when Joe Oliver was judged to have pulled down Cesky when he was clear through on net. If there is one person in this league that netminders probably don’t want to face on a penalty shot, it is probably Cesky – but Long did just that and was able to pull a fantastic save off to deny him.

The most controversial moment in the game came just seconds later.  There was a  crunching2015-09-12 wightlink4 (Nicky Craft) hit on the boards by a Raiders player and the ref immediately put his arm up.  Long rushed to the bench thinking it was a delayed penalty.  It appears the ref was actually signalling something else (we think delayed offside), or else he changed his mind as the arm came back down, play continued with the Oxford net left invitingly open for Sampford to score his second. Long then lost the plot and smashed his stick against the boards in anger. He was given a second misconduct which saw him thrown out of the game. Connor Ranby replaced him in net to finish off the last 5 minutes of the game.

Despite trying to get some stretching done in his net while play was down the other end, Ranby was not warmed up enough to prevent Tribe from sealing the victory after receiving a nice pass from Cesky.  Ranby did go on to make some excellent saves as Raiders clearly didn’t want to stop there, but that was the end of the action and the game finished with a convincing 7-2 scoreline in Wightlink’s favour.

MOTM beers went to Ben Ealey-Newman for Stars and JOrdan Gregory for Raiders.

Stars need to work on their finishing and cut out the defensive errors if they want to be taking points from the league’s big teams like Wightlink. Having said that, they were not a million miles away either and the game was probably a little more even than the scoreline suggests. Wightlink absolutely deserved the win though – their finishing was clinical and Matty Colclough is probably one of the best netties in the league.  I can certainly see them challenging for more trophies this season.  I suspect they probably had a bit more in the tank as well and had the game been closer in the scoreline, they may have proved to have another gear.

Wightlink: Cornish 2+0, Sampford 2+0, Tribe 1+1, Watkins 1+1, Ingoldsby 1+0, Compton 0+3, Rose 0+2, Cesky 0+2, Baird 0+1. Colclough: 39 shots (94.9%)

Oxford: Ealey-Newman 2+0, OJosh Oliver 0+1, Cox, 0+1, Avery 0+1. Long 31 shots (80.7%). Ranby 7 shots (85.7%.

 

 

Posted in Match report - Full

September 8th, 2015 by Nancy Carpenter

Oxford City Stars opened their 2015/16 account with a pre-season warm-up game against NIHL2 Haringey Racers. Oxford were comfortable winners with a 10-0 scoreline that was not even that flattering. Josh Florey, Dax Hedges and new import Andrew Magee each got a brace while Mike Whillock, Nick Oliver, Joe Edwards and new defenceman Shane Moore also grabbed a goal apiece.

Oxford were missing the mercurial Alan Green (injured), Ben Ealey-Newman had a suspension carried over from his U18 career and new import Andrew Bates who registration had not been completed.

When the game started, and it was Haringey that came out of the blocks faster with a blistering2015-09-06 Haringey (Stu Widdows) - ikin
first few minutes where they really pushed the Stars back into their own end. Racers certainly had the first genuine scoring chance with a goalmouth scramble that ended with the puck cleared off the line by a defenceman.  However, the Stars soon found their rhythm and started to turn the tide of pressure back towards the Haringey net.  There were several great chances: Josh Oliver went coast to coast before forcing a great save from Niks Trapans in the Racer’s net; Edwards shot just wide from close distance and Magee hit the post.

The breakthrough came when Hedges found Whillock on the back post and he slotted it under the keeper and into the net.  An additional assist went to Andy Cox who started the blue with a slick pass from the blue line.  Oxford’s second goal came a few minutes later while Racer’s Jack Ball sat a cross-checking penalty, Osman fed Avery on the blue line and his slapshot was tipped in by Magee.  Stars continued to pile on the pressure and forced Racers into conceding a second powerplay when Mark Saunders was sent to the box for slashing. Less than 30 seconds into the powerplay Josh Florey scored a beautiful goal – close up with a slap shot from just a few metres out which flew past over the goalies shoulder.  The period ended 90 seconds later and Stars were looking very comfortable already 3-0 up.

2015-09-06 Haringey (Paul Foster) - hedges   The second continued as the first ended with Stars in control and piling the pressure on.  Racers had a few chances on the break but Oxford were able to tidy up and stopped Haringey from setting up in the Stars’ end. Conor Ranby had the odd busy spell but mostly looked fairly untroubled and was able to deal with most shots with ease. Stars extended their lead in the 26th minute when Hedges had a lovely little backhand in front of the net to make it 4-0. Hedges was also involved in the 5th goal as he combined with Elliott to feed Moore on the blue line. Magee then got his second of the night after a pass from Elliott to make it 6-0.  A goalmouth scramble ended in Nick Oliver getting a slightly ugly goal (although he claims they are the best kind), slotting home a rebound from an Avery shot then made it 7-0 which is where the period ended.

The heat seemed to have gone out of the game, Stars were cruising and clearly working on set plays ahead of going against more testing opposition. Racers looked a bit dispirited – although to be fair to them, they never stopped skating and never gave up.  There was a brief 2015-09-06 Haringey (Stu Widdows) - whillock2tilt between Mike Whillock and Racer’s tough guy Ali Band which did get the crowd going. It was a good clean fight with both clearly willing participants – Ali Band probably won the fight on points as he seemed to land a few more punches and the ref got it right by giving them a simple 2+2 each with the game restarting shortly afterwards, although there was a brief delay to mop up the blood from Whillock’s split lip.  The period ended with Nick Oliver slotting home a sweet shot – but it passed the goal line a split second after the buzzer and was disallowed.

The third period continued in the same theme with Stars dominating the play. They did have a brief spell on the penalty kill after Elliott was sent to the box for hooking, but they actually had the best chance of the 2-minute minor when Magee and Hedges combined really well to force a great save down low from Trapans. Racers’ player/coach Drew Campbell had a good single-handed effort but was unable to get a good final touch and Oxford’s defence were able to clean up with relative ease.

Oxford’s 8th goal came in the 45th minute when quick and fast passing around the Haringey zone from Josh Florey, Osman and Edwards pulled the keeper out of position and Josh Florey was left in front of a nearly open goal and made no mistake, ramming the puck into the corner to claim his second of the night. Seconds after the restart Osman had a terrific breakaway after an excellent headman pass from Shane Moore, but was unable to convert after being pulled down by a Racer’s defender, leaving Stars on the powerplay again. Despite having wave after wave of attacks on the Racers net, there were too many off target shots paired with some good saves by Trapans and the Oxford failed to keep their perfect powerplay record. The 9th goal followed a few minutes later as Edwards, Osman and Jason Ikin combined with some 2015-09-06 Haringey (Paul Foster) - joshiver2high-quality passing which turned the Racers defence inside-out and left the keeper with no chance of saving the final shot. In the last few minutes,

Racers really threw everything they had to try and push for a goal and Ranby was called into action for a sustained period for the first time since the first few minutes. He had a good reaction save from Haringey’s Conor Sheehen and then made one real showcase save when a rare defensive error from Stars saw Racers get a 2-on-0 breakaway.  Tracking the puck carrier, Ranby was forced into making a diving save from the other side of the net after a great pass just above his slot.  Racers push for goal was costly in the end as it saw them concede a 10th in the 59th minute when Hedges had a fantastic one-time shot from an Avery pass with Josh Oliver getting the second assist.

The game was not exactly end to end action – but it was a good way for the Stars players to stretch the legs, get some competitive hockey under their belts and work on their systems ahead of the much tougher test next week when they travel to the Island to face the Wightlink Raiders and then host the Romford Raiders at home in the first of 10 double header weekends this season.

Man of the match for Haringey went to the very promising looking Niks Trapans. He may have let in 10 but a lot of them really were not his fault and he made some blinding saves. At only 18 I think he will could be a name to watch out for in the future and wouldn’t be surprised to see him climbing the leagues in the next few years. For Oxford, new import Andrew Magee was given the nod and I had to agree – he looked dangerous all night and was unlucky to only have 2 goals to his name.

Good points: the passing was really good, especially in the offensive zone where short sharp passes were turning the Racers’ defence inside out and creating good scoring chances.

To be improved: Stars need to come out of the blocks a bit harder.  This was a problem last season as well sometime.  Against better opposition we could easily have been a couple down after the opening 5 minutes.

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Oxford: Hedges 2+2, Florey (Josh) 2+0, Magee 2+0, Edwards 1+1, Whillock 1+0, Oliver (Nick) 1+0, Moore 1+0, Osman 0+4, Avery 0+3, Elliott 0+2, Oliver (Josh) 0+1, Ikin 0+1. NM Ranby 31 shots (100%)

Haringey: NM Trapane 68 shots (85.3%)

Posted in Match report - Full