Stars Silence Thunder For Impressive Victory

In a rare Saturday fixture, the Stars hosted the Milton Keynes Thunder for the annual John Cartwright trophy, and the Stars were fired up for a win after their loss in this trophy game last year and an unwelcome record against the Thunder this season of 1 win and 3 defeats.

It began well for the home team, winning the initial face off and Jesse Lye with a first shot at the Thunder net. A minute in, Darren Elliott took the first penalty, sitting out 2 minutes for cross-checking; a few chances for the visitors followed, most notably for Boris Ruzicka and Ross Green, but none of them found the back of the net. They were to have another Powerplay almost immediately, Jason Ikin sitting out for too many men on the ice; but the Thunder were stunned as the Stars’ Jaroslav Cesky obtained the puck, raced to the Thunder net and slipped the puck in around David Wride, assisted by Lye, for a short-handed goal. The Thunder followed this up with shots of their own, Connor Goode having a decent chance and skating unopposed to the net with the puck, but the impressive Tom Annetts in the Stars net saved it. A few minutes later Josh Oliver took the puck to the Thunder net, but was knocked down in front of the goal by Connor Goode. A penalty shot resulted, Oliver taking the puck to the side of the net and getting it in for the Stars’ second goal. And the shots continued, Cesky missing an Oliver pass for a chance to increase the lead. It was no surprise when, with four minutes to go in the period, Lye hit the puck to Cesky, who skated in from the side and added to the home side’s tally. As the period came to an end the Thunder tried in vain to get a goal back but the period ended with the Stars 3-0 up.

It was more of the same from both sides in the second period, with more goals from the Stars, and none for the Thunder. In what was becoming a one-sided game, Annetts faced only three shots on goal from the Thunder in this period. Matt Jordan and Oliver took shots early on, then Dax Hedges got the puck and was knocked over on his way to the net by the Thunder’s Ross Bowers, the latter receiving a penalty for tripping. Michael Whillock had a couple of good opportunities to score for the Stars, taking an immediate rebound from his first shot, but neither of them connected. A few minutes after the Powerplay ended the Thunder were on the penalty kill once more, Harrison Goode being penalised this time for interference. Cesky passed to Whillock who took a shot that was saved by Wride’s shin pads. Ten seconds after the penalty expired there was yet another penalty for the visitors; this time it was one for too many men. The third Powerplay in a row came to an end without resulting in any goals for the Stars, the Thunder taking a shot that completely missed the net and another more promising one that was stopped by the shin pads of Annetts. With six minutes to go in the period Ruzicka was thrown into the sin bin for high sticks, and this time the Stars managed to take advantage of the Powerplay, with Oliver taking the puck from Alan Green and Elliott and going around the back of the Thunder net, slipping the puck in behind Wride; the Stars having then scored one each of a short-handed, even-handed, Powerplay and penalty shot goal. Bowers took the puck soon after and had a chance to open the scoring for the visiting team, but it was the Stars who added yet another goal a few seconds later, Lye scoring from Cesky in what was proving to be a hard-working partnership this evening. As the period wound down Joe Edwards took a couple of shots but the whistle blew with the score 5-0 to the Stars.

The third period opened with Jordan taking a shot for the Stars, and the Thunder then took the puck and had a couple of chances of their own. A few minutes in Andrew Cox took a penalty for ‘closing his hand on the puck’ and the Thunder were finally able to get their first goal, Tom Mboya from Ross Green and Bowers, with Annetts falling over in the net trying to stop it. Fighting then broke out, resulting in penalties for both Greens- Alan in for roughing on the Stars’ side, and for the Thunder Ross got a 2+2 for roughing as well as a 10 minute personal misconduct penalty. This resulted in yet another goal for the home team, Josh Florey taking a long shot from the blue line, with an assist by Oliver. Whillock had another chance to score and then there were further penalties for both teams – Hedges out for the Stars, for tripping, and Connor Goode for the Thunder, for slashing. Just over 30 seconds later the Stars were down another man as Jordan took a penalty for kneeing. The Thunder took a few shots on Annetts, trying to double their goal tally, but the penalty expired without incident. With seven minutes left in the game the Stars had a few chances to score another, courtesy of Oliver, Green and Hallam Wilson; with four minutes left in the game Cesky passed the puck to Whillock, who found the back of the net for the home side’s seventh goal. The Thunder tried again on Annetts but once again it was the Stars with the chances, Edwards with the puck in front of the visitor’s net and several players trying to get it into the goal, but Wride eventually managed to get the save. With two minutes to go Cesky added to the Thunder’s bad day, getting a last goal for the Stars with assists from Lye and Wilson. The Thunder ended the game down to four skaters with Bowers in the penalty box for tripping; the Stars trying to add yet another goal but as the game ended the score remained the same.

Final score, Stars 8 Thunder 1.

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