Stars Unable To End Losing Streak Against League Leaders
The Oxford City Stars played the Chelmsford Chieftains for the fourth time this season, hoping to record their first win against them and end a 5-game losing streak, but despite a valiant effort by the Stars, the Chieftains showed why they are top of the league and still the team to beat with yet another victory.
As the first period began the action was in front of the Stars’ net, Tom Annetts being called into action immediately as the Chieftains made several shots on goal; the most notable resulting in Annetts almost jumping out of the net to save it. Soon after Josh Oliver for the Stars took the puck to the opposite end, but his attempt hit the wrong side of the net. Six minutes in came the first penalty, Joe Edwards sitting out a bench minor penalty for too many men on the ice. The Stars managed to successfully kill the penalty for a minute before the Chieftains were given one of their own, on Anthony Leone for elbows. Both sides had chances to score during the penalties, one of which led to Darren Brown for the Chieftains falling down in the Stars’ net. As Leone came back onto the ice the visitors almost immediately scored their first goal, an unassisted one from Juraj Huska. It was followed less than a minute later by a second goal, this time scored by Grant Bartlett with assists from Cameron Bartlett and Daniel Wright. It could have been a third soon after but the attempt bounced off the Stars’ goal post. The Stars stepped up their
efforts, Michael Whillock and Edwards coming together to try and slip the puck past Sonny Phillips in the Chieftains’ net, but they missed. A penalty on the Chieftains’ Alexander Staples for holding followed. Shortly after Alan Green had a good chance from the side of the net, but that too was saved. With five minutes to go in the period Jaroslav Cesky passed the puck to Brendan Baird but it sailed right past him to the other end of the ice. A minute later the visiting side scored their third goal, Grant Bartlett once again with the honours and assisted this time by Lukas Zatopek and with a further assist from the netminder Phillips. Annetts thought he had stopped this one, but it rebounded off him into the net. Green had another go at getting a goal back for the home team but as the whistle blew for the end of the period the score remained 0-3.
Both sides came out all guns blazing in the second period, the Chieftains’ Leone with the first shot on goal, saved in Annetts’ hand. Five and a half minutes into the period the Stars finally scored their first goal, Cesky scoring from Logan Prince and Green. After a brief interlude to ‘Air the Bear’, fans throwing bears onto the ice for a local children’s hospital, play began again with the Stars trying to add a second goal. Instead Green received a penalty for interference, and a minute later the Chieftains restored their 3-goal lead, Daniel Hammond scoring a Powerplay goal with assists from Grant and Cameron Bartlett. A minute later came a penalty for the visitors, Brandon Ayliffe sitting out for hooking. On their own Powerplay the Stars tried in vain to add another goal. With five minutes to play in the period Green had a good chance but it bounced off Phillips’ leg. A penalty on Ben Paynter for slashing followed, but the home side managed to kill the penalty. With less than two minutes left Grant Bartlett was thrown into the sin bin for tripping, and he was joined shortly after by Staples, in for interference. With a spell of 5-on-3 hockey the Stars were able to take advantage and with 30 seconds to go in the period scored their second goal, Dominic Hopkins this time finding the back of the net assisted by Cesky and Paynter.
The beginning of the third period saw the Stars with 50 seconds of their Powerplay left and Green had an immediate go at adding a third goal, but the shot missed. The Chieftains had their own chances but two and a half minutes in it was the Stars that scored again, the goal this time coming from Josh Oliver with assists from Prince and new recruit Jesse Lye. Having come from 3-0 down to within one goal, the Stars stepped up their efforts, seeing the chance of victory. Several shots on goal followed by the Stars but four minutes into the period Green sat out a penalty for hooking. The penalty was killed successfully and Green returned to the ice, gained the puck and had a chance to score but the effort missed, and less than a minute later a shot by Zatopek from the halfway line managed to find the back of the net and the visitors had scored their fifth goal. Almost halfway through the period the Stars ended up in a scuffle around the Chieftains’ net which resulted in several players for both teams embroiled in a fight, but it was quickly broken up with no penalties. Just after the face-off Whillock took the puck and charged towards Phillips, the home fans groaning as a very good chance was missed. In the next few minutes both sides tried to add another goal, with Cesky, Matt Jordan, Hopkins and Whillock all with chances, but to no avail. With three minutes left in the game another penalty was called on Green for hooking. Despite being a man down the Stars had a good chance to score when Phillips was far out of the net hitting the puck away, but it was not to be. With less than a minute to go another missed shot ended in another fight, this time leading to penalties on both sides for roughing- Paynter for the Stars and Cameron Bartlett for the Chieftains. Immediately a time out was called by the Stars, with the predicable result of Annetts coming off the ice to give the home side an extra man advantage, but there was too much to do in too little time and the game ended with no further goals on either side.
Final score: Stars 3 Chieftains 5.