Match reports – the playoffs

NIHL Division One Play Offs – Quarter Final

Oxford City Stars vs Streatham

The Oxford City Stars went into the weekends play off quarter final for the first time since 2010 and just came up short as veteran Streatham player Nicky Chinn scored the winning goal in the second leg, 29 seconds into sudden death overtime.

On Saturday the Stars, with home advantage looked to build a lead to take to South London the following night. In front of the biggest crowd of the season at the Oxpens Road rink, the game started with both teams taking a cautious approach. It was just over the 10 minute mark when Stars got their initial breakthrough when Ondrej Pekarik shot past David Wride in the visitor’s goal. The assist going to Shane Moore. It was early in the 2nd period when Pekarik pounced again to score his and Oxfords second goal. Streatham’s best chance came as they piled through on the Stars net only for Stars defenceman Jake Florey to get called for a penalty for tripping to deny a certain goal scoring chance.  In the third period both sides had chances but Stars were able to see the game out for the 2-0 advantage to take to South London on Sunday. Tom Annetts posting the shut out in the Stars goal with 27 shots against him.

The game at Streatham, the following night was again in front of a large crowd, including a large contingent of fans from Oxford. The game started brightly for the Stars and it was probably a case of what could have been as Alan Green fizzed a shot past Will Sanderson in the home goal, only for it to crash into the goal post. The home side settled into their game and most of the first period action was in the Streatham attacking zone with Stars netminder Tom Annetts making some important saves. Stars had chances at the other end, the best falling to Mike Whillock. It was no surprise when Streatham took the lead on the night with Joe Johnston netting after good work from Steven Fisher and the impressive Dave Savage. The second period was peppered with penalties as both teams fought for superiority. Annetts was the busier of the two netminders as Streatham played their best hockey of the weekend. 90 seconds before the end of the 2nd period the home side drew level on aggregate when Savage finished off a nicely worked goal.

The tension was mounting in the rink as the third period started and both sets of fans got behind their teams. This was Stars best spell of the two games as they forced Sanderson into repeated action in the home goal. Streatham then stepped back up as the game ebbed and flowed. Streatham took the lead with just under 10 minutes remaining on the clock when Adam Wood netted as Johnston fed him the puck as Stars looked for the winner. This gave Streatham a3-2 lead. The never say die spirit of the visitors was there for all to see as Stars looked for the equaliser. The Stars fans did not have to wait long as within two minutes Ben Ealey-Newman pulled the aggregate back to 3-3, this time Pekarik was the provider. 3-3 was how it finished at the end of the 3rd period.

Sudden death overtime was somewhere Stars had never been before. The teams were reduced by one skater each, down to 4 out skaters. Stars also had the added disadvantage of over one minute of penalty remaining on Shane Moore for a delay of game penalty he picked up near the end of normal time. This was a time for big players and in the world of British ice hockey, you can’t get much bigger than Nicky Chinn, a veteran of over 1500 senior games for club and country. He latched onto a pass from Savage and fired high over Annetts to send the home players and fans into ecstasy and the Stars out of the playoffs.

Ian Dibley

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