Stars Title Hopes Dashed By Romford

Oxford City Stars went into the game knowing that anything
less than a win would mean their League title challenge was over for the
season. Their chances were slim as they also depended on a number of other
results, but in the end, they will be meaningless for the Stars as they
succumbed to the Raiders, who Stars had only beaten by an overtime winner in
the first meeting in Essex, earlier in the season.

Stars gave a starting debut to 17-year-old netminder Daniel
Trueherz and he was soon in action as Raiders opened the brighter as Stars took
two early penalties on the play, Tom Davis and Jake Florey taking the
penalties. Stars managed to penalty kill both of these as Trueherz faced down
the Raiders shots. Stars seemed to have weathered the early storm as firstly
Josh Oliver and then Lee Richardson went close for the hosts. The visitors
opened the scoring, in the 9th minute, when Samuel Austin fired in a
wrist shot past Trueherz. Stars upped their game and 48 seconds before the end
of the period equalised when Matt Lawday, continued his fine run of goalscoring,
when he flicked the puck over the Raiders netminder Bradley Windebank.

The second period started with Raiders taking a minor
penalty with Callum Burnett sitting out two minutes for holding. Stars didn’t really
trouble Windebank in the visitor’s goal and it was no surprise when Raiders
took the lead when Ewan Hill fired home after Trueherz had saved the initial
shot on the goal. Within 11 seconds parity was restored as Oliver fired home
from distance after good work by Michal Oravec, who picked up his second assist
of the game. Less than a minute later and Stars were behind again when Brandon
Webster finished off a nice move involving Tommy Huggett and Sam Roberts. The
visitors extended their lead in the 34th minute when George Gell
scored, following an individual defensive error by the Stars. The scoring was
not over in the period as Josh Florey reduced the deficit to one goal with a
thunderbolt of a shot from the point.

The third period saw the game open up and become more end to
end. Stars dominated the territory and possession but found the Raiders
netminder, Windebank in imperious form. He saved 22 shots, in the 3rd
period alone, to give him a match total of 50 shots. Richardson, Darren Elliott
and Dax Hedges had the best chances for the Stars but the 16-year-old visiting
netminder held strong. As Stars pushed for the equaliser, they were caught on
the break with Webster adding his second and the Raiders 5th goal.

Both netminders, deservedly, picked up the player of the
match awards. Stars have two games this forthcoming weekend when they travel to
play Chelmsford on Saturday. They entertain Cardiff Fire in their last regular
season game on Sunday, at Oxford Ice Rink, Face Off 6.15pm. They will be looking
to get back to winning ways in time for the playoffs on the weekend of the 20th/21st
April.

Ian Dibley

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