Stars Left Thunderstruck In Home Defeat
Oxford City Stars vs Milton Keynes Thunder, Sunday 27th November 2016, Oxford.
The Oxford City Stars played the Milton Keynes Thunder for the fourth time this season, the visitors having the upper hand in 2 of the 3 matches so far, and despite the Stars being above the Thunder in the league the Thunder’s impressive form against the home side continued. The Stars were unable to find a way past the Thunder for the majority of the game, all 3 of their goals coming in the last 6 minutes of the game, and it was too late to have the impact they needed.
The Thunder started their tally early in the game, Jakub Klima picking up the puck and skating unopposed to the Stars’ net, slipping the puck over Tom Annetts’ right shoulder, assisted by Paul Gore. 35 seconds later they doubled their lead, this time Adam Harris found a way past Annetts, with assists from Harrison Goode and Tom Mboya. A minute later a shot by the Stars’ Josh Florey came agonisingly close to resulting in a goal, instead bouncing off the net post, to the groans of the home fans. In the following minutes there were chances by both sides, and it was the Thunder once again who converted those, scoring their third goal exactly 7 minutes into the game, this time Harrison Goode from Klima and Alex Whyte. The goal was followed a minute later by the first penalty of the game, on the Thunder’s Gore for hooking. The Stars were not able to capitalise on the Powerplay, Dominic Hopkins having a go but his shot sailed right over the top of the opponents’ net; Josh Oliver’s attempt went around the back of the net. With 3 minutes to go in the period Alan Green for the Stars entered the penalty box for hooking; to the relief of the home fans, the penalty was successfully killed. As the buzzer sounded for the end of the first period, a final Thunder shot was deflected off Annetts’ arm.
The second period started very much as the first had, with an early Thunder goal, less than a minute in scored by Ross Bowers and assisted by former Stars player Boris Ruzicka and Jamie Line. Once again, the Stars were unable to get past David Wride in the Thunder net. Instead the home side spent a great deal of the period in the sin bin, the penalties coming thick and fast. It started with a slashing penalty on Dax Hedges, and no sooner was he out than Green let his frustration at the score show, picking a fight with his Thunder namesake Ross Green. This resulted in a 2+2 roughing penalty for Ross Green and for Alan Green it was the end of the game, as he was hit with 5 minutes plus a game penalty for spearing on top of the 2+2 for roughing. Halfway into the period Brendan Baird was in for boarding. A couple of chances followed for the Stars, notably a shot by Joe Edwards that was caught in Wride’s hand. With just under 4 minutes left in the period Hedges fell over near the Thunder’s net and started a fight with Wride, others then getting involved in the altercation. Hedges was given 2+2 for roughing and Harrison Goode for the visitors got 2+2 for interference and roughing. The Stars had another couple of attempts as the period wound down but it remained goalless on the home clock.
The Stars started the final period knowing that a massive effort would be needed to draw, let alone win the game. Both sides traded chances, but despite a penalty on Line for hooking 3 minutes in, the Stars could still not find the back of the net. Three minutes later came the first Stars penalty of the period, with Jaroslav Cesky in for holding the stick. The Thunder had some shots on goal but did not manage to score on the Powerplay. Seven and a half minutes into the period came the final penalties of the game, each side entering the box at the same time, Benjamin Nethersell for the Stars gaining a slashing penalty and Connor Goode for the Thunder was in for high sticks. After the penalties had ended Klima almost scored a fifth goal for the Thunder; on the rebound he converted that into a goal, assisted this time by Line. With 10 minutes left in the game it looked like the visitors would record a shut-out against the home side; but just when the home fans had given up, the Stars scored 3 goals in quick succession, the first coming with just over 6 minutes left (Michael Whillock from Joonas Liimatainen and Baird), the second and third in the final minute of the game (Jason Ikin assisted by Ben Paynter and Cesky, then Edwards from Dominic Hopkins). The Stars took a timeout following their third goal, predictably resulting in Annetts coming off in favour of an extra skater, but with just over 30 seconds left in the match they had left themselves with too much to do, and there were no further goals. Final score 3-5.