Oxford City Stars Are NIHL National Champions!
The second leg of Oxford’s double header this past weekend saw the Stars take on the champs of the NIHL 2 North division to decide the winner for the title of NIHL 2 National champions. The championship took place at the Skydome Arena in Coventry, the home of the Coventry Blaze who play up in the top tier of British ice hockey along with the likes of the Belfast Giants, Nottingham Panthers and Cardiff Devils.
From the very first face off the Stars went in strong to dominate the first 10 minutes of play. Early in the match there was a little bit of pushing and shoving in front of the Sutton net as Oxford pushed to score first and Sutton tried just as hard to stop the Stars from doing so. The first call made on the ice that afternoon was made against the Stars as Martyn Gray was given a minor penalty. No goals were scored with Sutton were on the first power play of the day meaning that the first period ended with an even score of 0 – 0.
With the start of the second period, it was Sutton who were the side with a man sat in the penalty box first. The penalty was given as a product of a roughing call. The excitement magnified a couple of minutes after Sutton returning to full strength as what appeared to be a Sutton goal was disallowed by the referee. By continuing to keep working hard, Oxford were able to open the scoring with a lovely goal from Joe Edwards and Mike Whillock with the assist. With the buzz of the first goal still very much alive, Mike Whillock expertly shot the puck past the Sutton netminder to get a second goal for the Stars with Joe Edwards this time being the one assisting. This is where the action ended for the period with the Stars up with a 2-goal buffer and 20 minutes left to play.
In the opening moments of the final period Oxford were put on the back foot as Dax Hedges was given a 2-minute time out in the penalty box. This resulted in another power play for Sutton in which this time they were able to materialise with a goal. It was scored by Stanislav Lascek and was assisted by Joseph Colton. The goal meant the Stars returned to full strength for a while until Andy Cox was given a delaying the game penalty. This penalty was successfully killed by the Stars. While Sutton were looking to score a second goal for them to level the score, Oxford scored a third goal. Conor Redmond was the one who tucked in in behind the goalie and Dom Hopkins was awarded the assist. At the 55 minute mark Oxford called a time out. After this point the final minutes of the game played out and the Oxford City Stars became the NIHL national champions as the final buzzer sounded with the Stars taking the victory.
They’ve now won both the league title and the division title with only one more possible title for the Stars to clinch – two down, one to go.