Stars Begin The New Year With Tense Away Draw

Bracknell Hornets vs Oxford City Stars
Saturday 7th January 2017
John Nike Leisure Complex, Bracknell

Oxford City Stars returned to action after a three week gap over the Christmas/New Year period when they made the short trip to Bracknell to play the Hornets. The Stars were looking to end an unwanted 6 game losing streak, which saw them last record a victory back in November.

The hosts nearly opened their account inside the first minute when a Stars defensive error saw Tom Annetts into early action. Both teams then created few chances in the early part of the game and it was former Stars players Ben and Josh Ealey-Newman who saw their chances saved by Annetts. Stars’ best chance fell to Joe Edwards on the breakaway but the home netminder Danny Milton was able to save the effort. It was in the 14th minute that Stars’ Josh Florey picked up a two minute minor penalty for hooking – no contact seem to be made on the Hornets player but Florey was the nearest Stars player and was given the penalty by referee Blaine Evans. On the resultant powerplay the veteran Danny Hughes opened the scoring when he tipped in from the centre of the netminding crease after good work by Michel Oravec and the impressive Josh Martin. Bracknell increased their lead just before the end of the period when Ryan Handisides tucked in a loose puck that the Stars defence had failed to clear after Annetts had made the initial save again from Oravec.

The second period saw the Stars up their game with firstly Jesse Lye, then Jaroslav Cesky going close for the visitors. It was at the half way mark of the game when Stars reduced the deficit. Lye skated forward and made a lovely drop pass play to set up Darren Elliott, on his return to Stars colours, to find the back of the net. Stars stepped up the pressure and whilst Ben Ealey-Newman sat a penalty in the sin bin, Dominic Hopkins tipped a Brendan Baird shot past Milton to tie the game at 2-2. Less than a minute later and Stars were in the lead. Dax Hedges won a puck on the boards and pass inside to Mike Whillock who again passed inside to Hallam Wilson who fired home to give the Stars a one goal lead at the end of the second period.

The third period again, saw chances at both ends, as both teams’ defences seemed unable to clear their defensive zones. It was on the 50 minute mark when the Stars once again failed to clear their zone and Sam Cheema equalised with a wrist shot. The game then boiled over, albeit briefly, as Hornets’ Liam Underdown was assessed a checking from behind penalty right in front of the Bracknell bench. Stars Mike Whillock was assessed 4 minutes of penalty for roughing and a game misconduct for leaving his teams’ bench to do so. Stars pushed and pushed for a winner with Cesky dominating the puck, but couldn’t find a clinical finish. Final score 3-3, bringing a welcome end to the streak.

Ian Dibley


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