Credit Paul Foster / https://www.flickr.com/photos/fozzyimages/
According to the fixtures section on www.oxfordcitystars.com and the electronic Fixtures Live system, Stars will take the ice a week earlier than expected in a pre-season challenge against the London Haringey Racers. 482Days recaps the previous two games between the Racers, who were reformed for the 2013/14 season after four years without Senior Hockey at Alexandra Palace by Dave Richards.
Saturday 5th October 2013, Alexandra Palace, London – London Haringey Racers 1 – 4 Oxford City Stars
It was a game that was perhaps one of the most hyped up early season matches that NIHL2 had ever seen in a league not traditionally used to seeing a lot of publicity and a bumper crowd (at that time, although Haringey would go on to get spectacular crowds by the end of the season) turned up to watch what would be a chippy classic, with both sides having their chances before a late burst by the Stars finished it off.
Stars had blown two early PP opportunities when at 11:36 the first major incident of the game happened, Stars Alan Green was judged by referee Roy Hamiliton by have attempted to spear a Racers player, then David Richards picked up a hooking penalty followed by a roughing one for hitting green, as did Anthony Child to amazingly put the Stars on the PP.
However, neither side could hold their head up high with the discipline side of the game, Andy Cox checked a player to the head which set off another melee to put Racers on their first PP over the game which they would fail to convert and end the first period.
It’s likely both coaches gave the same discipline speech as we wouldn’t get another penalty until after the half hour mark but Jacob Smith picked up a Sam Broughton pass to open the scoring for the Stars and they then went to work outshooting the Racers 16 to 8 in the period but when Josh Oliver took the first penalty of the period, Racers levelled the game from Lee Hounslow.
Haringey’s joy was shortlived however when Darren Elliott took just two and a half minutes to re-establish the one goal lead after a snipe from the slot after being set up by Nick Oliver and Alan Green, which would end the period but not before another failed PP attempt by Oxford.
The third period was back to the first, penalties left right and centre (no fewer than 72 penalties in minutes in the game), but it was a lightning quick salvo, first on the five on three, then five on four from Josh Oliver and Jake Florey to give the Stars a 4-1 win with a stunning 96% save percentage for James Skaife
Sunday 2nd March 2014, Oxford Ice Rink, Oxford – Oxford City Stars 4 – 5 London Haringey Racers
There was no doubt going into the game that Haringey were deeply unhappy with their performance back in October and were determined to show after a season in the league that they could bounce back. And they did in style.
Once again it was a game dominated by penalties starting at 5:33 when Joe Oliver for Oxford and Ricky Mills for Haringey got a high-sticking and slashing call in the same incident, something would also happen later in period from Mills and Mike Whillock this time for Roughing. Haringey would take the lead from Ricky Rutherford.
Josh Oliver made it 1-1 at 18:08 on a six-on-five chance on the delayed penalty after a great pass from his brother, but Racers restored their lead in the game with 48 seconds left in the period from Sean Martin.
Into the second period and Haringey got off to a flying start with Martin getting his second of the game just two minutes in. Stars got an powerplay when Lee Mercer made a cross-check and the hosts immediately capitalised on it getting the game back to within a goal from Alan Green.
Just 35 seconds later however and Mason Webster had put it in the back of the net to make it 4-2 to Racers and you just got the feeling that it wasn’t going to be the Stars night at this point. Into the third period and penalties once again nearly turned out to the Racers worst enemy with 18 PIM’s assessed for Haringey and Stars would score two powerplay goal firstly from Jeff Sykora and then from Josh Florey to tie the game up at four.
In the end however, Racers managed to calm their nerves and their managed to stay out of the penalty box for the rest of the game which gave Rob Jenner the opportunity to score the winner with five minutes left and secure an unlikely victory against a Stars side that seemed almost invincible at home in the second half of the season.
The same day, Cardiff beat Slough at home and if it hadn’t of been for that Stars would have been staying in NIHL2 for another season.
It’s a series where no side has ever won at home, so Stars will be eager to put that particular donkey off their back. Sunday 6th September at Oxpens Road, 6:15pm face/off.