Stars’ Heat Too Hot For Cardiff’s Fire
With Cardiff Fire’s Division 2 side languishing near the bottom of the league table the Oxford City Stars were expected to win this game easily, and were confident enough to start their back-up netminder Mark Duffy in goal for the first time in almost two months.
It was the Fire with the early puck control as Robert Sedlak took the puck, but it was intercepted by the Stars and resulted in a shot by Alexander Staples. Two minutes in Joe Edwards had a great chance to put the Stars on the scoresheet but he missed, resulting in groans from the home fans. Lawday had a couple of chances to put the Stars ahead and less than a minute later the Fire received their first penalty, with Joe Morris out for hooking. Kamil Kinkor had a great shot on the power play from right in front of the net, and the fans cheered as the goal buzzer went off, but the goal was disallowed due to the net being off its moorings, and the power play continued. Lawday and Kinkor both followed up with shots but neither of them could find the back of the net. Morris had his own shot for the visitors but Duffy caught it in his hand. Just under 9 minutes into the game Lawday had a shot that was saved by Lewis Naasson Davies in the Fire’s goal, but the rebound was slotted into the net by Andrew Cox, with a second assist from Edwards. Thirty seconds later Edwards put the Stars 2-0 up, this goal assisted by Michael Whillock and Dominic Hopkins. The next minute saw scrapping in front of the Fire’s net as Darren Elliott, newly returned from injury, tried to get the puck in, but he was not successful. Halfway into the period the Stars fancied their chances with a power play goal to put them ahead even further, when a hooking penalty was given against Alan Armour of the Fire, but despite several chances, most notably from Edwards, the opponents killed the penalty successfully. Morris was being active for the Fire and had another shot on Duffy from way back at the other end, but it was stopped by Duffy’s shin pads. A shot by Martyn Gray was followed by the first penalty of the night for the Stars, with Cox thrown into the sin bin for 4 minutes for two penalties of charging and cross-checking. With the Fire on the power play for 4 minutes they tried their best to score, with further chances from Morris and from Andre Norris; with 30 seconds left on the penalty Edwards joined Cox in the penalty box as a shove to a Fire player resulted in a cross-checking penalty. Rhys Harding made it another penalised player, this time for the Fire, as he sat out for roughing. With just over 90 seconds left to play in the period Whillock hit the puck from behind the Fire net; the shot missed but was caught by Conor Redmond, who made it 3 goals for the Stars as the whistle blew.
The second period began with a goal, with Whillock finding the back of the net less than a minute in, with an assist from Elliott. For the next few minutes momentum shifted constantly from one side to the other, with the Fire with a few good chances in a period where they almost had as many shots as the Stars; despite this it was the home side yet again who scored the next goal, this one by Kinkor with assists from Lawday and Jake Florey. Redmond and Theo Bundock followed up with shots, and an interference penalty on Harding for the Fire gave the Stars another power play; once more, they could not take advantage of that, despite chances from Elliott, Redmond and Lawday. Harding had his own chance for the visitors. Seven minutes in fighting started and resulted in roughing penalties for both sides- on Gray for the Stars and Kieran Latchford for the Fire. Whilst both players were still in the sin bin a nasty hit by Staples resulted in Sedlak lying face down on the ice, needing the assistance of the doctor. Staples was given a 2+10 penalty for checking to the head. With the Fire on a power play they were finally successful and with Sedlak back in action it was him that shot the puck into the top of the net, assisted by Norris. Just over a minute later Kinkor managed to get a breakaway and struck back for the home side, this goal being assisted by Hopkins. The Fire had a couple of their own chances but as the whistle blew Hopkins aimed a long shot towards Davies, but it wasn’t close enough and the period ended 6-1 to the Stars.
The first few minutes of the third period saw Stars players fire off shot after shot, with almost double the number of shots as their opponents in this period. Whillock, Hopkins and Kinkor all had shots before William Harrison was given a holding penalty for the Stars. With the Fire on the power play they tried to take another goal back but less than a minute later they occurred a penalty for too many men on the ice. Yet another power play for the Stars was goalless; Kinkor had a saved shot that rebounded and Edwards tried to get the rebound in but it missed. As the Fire took control of the puck it ended up at the Stars’ net, but Duffy dived on it. Whillock then managed to get the puck unopposed and skated up to the net but the shot was saved. After a chance by Redmond, Lawday then managed to add the home side’s 7th goal, with an assist by Stewart Tait. Immediately after this, Davies left the Fire’s net, to be replaced by Ciaran Matthews. Cox had a shot saved but it bounded back into the net; however the officials had not managed to see what happened and disallowed the goal. After a ruckus near the penalty box Cox was given a 2 minute penalty for tripping and a 10 minute misconduct penalty and the Fire were on the power play again; however they then managed to incur a slashing penalty against Morris. On their seventh try the Stars finally scored a power play goal, with Edwards setting Elliott up with a pass just in front of the net and Elliott firing it in. For the remaining 7 ½ minutes both sides tried to score more goals, the best attempts coming from Edwards and Willock for the Stars and Armour for the Fire. Neither side was successful and the last few minutes passed without incident. As the last few seconds ticked by on the clock Lawday had a shot and as the whistle blew the Stars managed to get the puck to Matthews, who dived on the puck as the final whistle blew.
Final score Stars 8 Fire 1.