Return of a Trio
Oxford City Stars continued to put together their assault on next seasonâ€™s NIHL1 campaign with the signing of three returning players from last years squad.
Young brothers, Josh and Ben Ealey-Newman join netminder Tom Annetts in yellow and blue for season 2016/17
Annetts a midseason recruit from English Premier League outfit Bracknell Bees, last term, has returned to guard the net at Oxpens Road. Widely regarded as one of the best netminders in the Stars division, Annetts is a core part of Oxford City Stars defensive rear guard, posting a save % of .895 at Oxford, his best statistical return since 2011.Â Annetts declared â€œI didn’t really know what to expect with the standard of hockey in this division but Iâ€™mÂ really impressed with quality of some of the players around the league and in our team. The guys in the room and Simon made me feel very welcome so the transition was great and made it easy for me to fit in, and an easy decision to return to Oxfordâ€Â Tom added â€œThe atmosphere especially at Oxpens Road was fantastic last year, there were a few close games where the support helped us get the points. I have been pretty busy this summer with the birth of my second son, but Iâ€™m now itching to get started and bring the boys to support the Stars in September!â€
Stars Head Coach Simon Anderson revealed â€œI am delighted to have Tommy back as our number 1 keeper, He was instrumental in making us the team we became last season,Â giving us a chance to win every night and I wanted him to return so much! So much so that,I did not even speak to any other goalies about our the number one spot. For me Tom is the best goalie in the league and he will again give us a chance to win every game we play. He came in last season and immediately bought in to what we wanted to achieve and was a very popular guy in the room. The guys respected him from day one and whenever he had something to say, the guys listened. We want to build a winning culture here and it starts with a solid goalie and Tommy is certainly that. Iâ€™m really glad he has decided to come backâ€
19 year old Ben Ealey-Newman is an exciting and powerful addition to Starâ€™s attacking options. Ben posted 20 goals in a 35 games last year for Oxford and will be looking to add to that tally. Ben is also a physical presence for the Stars, takingÂ 48 penalty minutes across the season. Â Ben Ealey-Newman said â€œSince the season ended I have been in the gym getting myself ready for next year, The step up to NIHL1 last year was huge. Everything was much faster and the guys playing with and against were obviously a lot more experienced and skilled than NIHL2. The Fitness levels of everyone were also a lot higher than what I was used to in the league below so I had to play and train up to standard.â€ Ben added â€œ The Last year at Oxford taught me how a team that works hard together can achieve great things.â€
Coach Anderson added â€œBen, was a must sign for me and I am excited to have him back in yellow & blue. Ben was outstanding for us last season and we will be looking for him to kick on with more of the same. He has great skill,a scoring touch and is a gritty forward, who does not mind dropping the gloves when he has to!! .I think its going to be an interesting season for him, as teams will now focus in on him and make things more difficult, but as with last year he will get plenty of opportunities to show just what a good player he is and im looking forward to working with him again and being a part of his development.â€
Joining Ben is younger brother Josh Ealey-Newman,Â 17 year old Josh has played 16 times for Stars, scoring twice but his displays for LondonÂ Racers in the league below Oxford last year really whet the appetite, with Josh notching 20 goals and 31 assists for the Londoners in NIHL2.Â Ben made a big impact in his 1st season up, are you hoping for a similar result this season.Â Josh stated â€œI’d love to be able to follow what Ben did in his first season and plan on doing this by contributing at both ends of the ice. I really enjoyed my part time roll here last season,Â the team are a great bunch of guys and I’m looking forward to playing full time with the team and in front of the Stars fans.
Josh added â€œI know Simon will improve my game and playing with more experienced players at the higher level will stretch me to be a more rounded player myself, I’m really pleased to join the Stars for the coming season and to be part of the exciting changes at Oxford.â€
Head Coach Anderson said â€œJosh was on a 2way contract last season allowing him to play for us and London Racers in the League belowÂ and he absolutely ripped up that division . After speaking with him it became clear that he really wanted to give NIHL1 a go on a full time basis and i am happy to give him his first opportunity. He had a taster last season and never let us down whenever he pulled the Stars jersey on and I think he is going to be a guy to watch for sure. I have challenged him to emulate his brotherâ€™s performance last year and I know that is what he wants to do. As well as work hard for the team, He is a guy with a tremendous ability and if he works hard, he has the chance to have a very good season.
Coach Anderson concludedÂ â€œAll three of these signings, will make us a force next season and the roster is shaping up nicelyâ€