Stars Snatch Win In Overtime
Oxford City Stars made the short trip to Slough to face the current league leaders, Slough Jets, knowing that nothing short of a victory was required to keep their League title challenge alive. Stars were once again without the injured John Dibble, Adam Harris and James Buckingham. Hopes were high that defenceman Dom Hopkins would return from injury but he failed a late fitness test.
Stars started the first period brightly with Conor Redmond and Josh Florey going close for the visitors. A series of minor penalties disrupted the flow of both sides but it was the Stars who took the lead when Michal Oravec, Lee Richardson and Josh Florey combined. Slough upped their game and equalised when Ryan Handisides tipped in a Luke Reynolds pass. More penalties followed with the first period ending all square at 1-1.
The start of the 2nd period saw Jets out of the blocks and the puck was flying in towards Milan Ronai in the Stars net. It was no surprise when they took the lead, with Handisides once again firing past Ronai. Matt Lawday had a great chance for the Stars before Ronai was called into action stopping a Slough break away. Into the final part of the 2nd period and Lawday picked up the puck in his own half and skated at the heart of the Jets defence. He lifted the puck over the last defenceman’s stick and fired the puck past Matthew Smital in the home goal. This left the game at 2-2 at the 40-minute mark.
Much as Slough had started period 2, Stars started the 3rd period dominating territory. Tom Davis gave the Stars the lead before the impressive Lawday doubled the away teams advantage after good work from Josh Oliver and Oravec. Slough pulled a goal back with 12 minutes to go. Stars player/coach Lee Richardson had a great chance to extend the lead but his effort rattled the cross bar. 82 seconds from the end and the game was tied at 4-4 as Slough equalised with a wrap around effort. 4-4 at the end of regulation time.
Into sudden death overtime, with a maximum of 5 minutes, and Stars rotated their players as both teams sought to find the opening. Once again, as it was the last time Stars went to overtime, an unlikely goalscoring hero was found, when defenceman Alex Staples found himself close to the goal and he slid the puck past Smital for the win.
There were scenes of joy from the large travelling support as Stars kept their title hopes alive. They are dependant on results elsewhere over the next two weekends and on maintaining their winning run to have any chance of retaining the League title.
The Stars are next in action this Sunday (31st March) when they entertain Romford Raiders at Oxpens Ice Rink. Face Off is 6.15pm.