Stars edge towards safety after thrilling draw

Oxford City Stars secured a crucial point away from home at the Bracknell Hornets in a pulsating, thrilling four-all draw with goals for the Stars from James Pentecost, Dax Hedges, Josh Oliver and Evan Mackintosh.

Bracknell started off the stronger of the two sides with a near chance well saved by netminder James Skaife in the opening seconds of the game. Discipline was certainly an issue for both sides early as well with Stars Sam Arnold taking an interference penalty but Bracknell coaching staff would have been furious to end up taking a penalty themselves for Too Many Players on the ice after botching an attempt to bring an extra attacker on.

Stars didn’t manage to make much of the powerplay but were able to start building their forward possession and took the lead from James Pentecost after Darren Elliott shot in and forced the rebound which was shot home to put the Stars one up. Stars looked good defensively in the period but only managed to get five shots on the net in the opening twenty.

Towards the end of the period, James Clarke took a penalty but again Bracknell took a penalty in return this time when Ryan Handisides retaliated to again put the game on the 4 on 4. Stars would have their first penalty kill of the game when Dax Hedges was called for cross-checking 34 seconds from the end of the first.

The second period opened up in terms of attacking play and after Mason Wild was called for slashing, the Hornets took just 11 seconds on the Powerplay to deservedly level the game from Carl Thompson. Quick goals on PP was the order of the day as when Mike Whillock was called for Slashing, Danny Hughes took just 9 seconds to put the Hornets in the lead.

It was to be, however, Stars final penalty of the game. Less than two minutes later and with Bracknell trying to push on Dax Hedges got a chance on the break and fired home to level the game after being set up by a Tom Avery pass to level the game at 2-2. It was undoubtedly the best part of the game and the hosts looked like they had every chance to kick on, but then Oxford would find their resolve and kick back.

Josh Martin took a holding penalty for the Hornets and Stars were frustrated when they were caught on the break and conceded a Short Handed goal from import Valdemar Pelikovsky but Bracknell’s lead was again short lived as Josh Oliver hit back a minute later on the same powerplay to level the game at three.

Bracknell had the better of the third period, certainly at the start of it and when they scored from Hughes to make it 4-3, it looked like they might just have a chance to hold on but Stars simply refused to roll over and had their chances with Darren Elliott, James Pentecost, and Evan Mackintosh all coming close to scoring but being denied until with just over two minutes left on the clock Mackintosh scored one of the most crucial goals for the season to secure a late point for the Stars.

With Cardiff holding the tiebreaker over Oxford, the Stars knew that if they had lost all three games they were down, and the situation with a three point lead is much better, although Stars will certainly have both eyes on the MK vs Cardiff game tonight.

Photo Credit: Kevin Slyfield Photography: https://www.flickr.com/photos/juniorbeesicehockey/16816354545/in/set-72157651347420561

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