The Bracknell double-header
Saturday 20th February
Bracknell Hornets away
Report by Ian Dibley
Oxford City Stars travelled to Bracknell on Saturday, searching for the two points that would guarantee them a place in the end of season play offs. Stars got off to the perfect start taking the lead when Joe Edwards netted from a rebound from the Hornets netminder Matthew Smital.Â Twelve seconds later Stars doubled their lead when Alan Green netted after some precision passing from Shane Moore and Ondrej Pekarik. The hosts then took a succession of minor penalties but Stars struggled to create good chances on the powerplay and where unable to further extend their lead. Bracknell got on the scoreboard after William Stead forced the puck home and despite the protests of the Stars that the whistle had gone before the puck went in the goal stood.
Just before the end of the first period the game erupted as Bracknell skated in on Stars netminder Tom Annetts. Annetts took offence to the challenge on him which resulted in Annetts being wrestled to the floor by Hornets Sam Waller. At the same time Hornets Brandon Miles and Stars Boris Ruzicka were exchanging the leather of their gloves. All of the other players on the ice then paired up, a familiar scene in many games as tensions ran high. Annetts and Waller were ejected from the game with Miles and Ruzicka sitting four minutes each for their offences. This saw Stars young back up netminder Aaron Burton make his senior debut,
The second period saw the Hornets come close to opening their account. Danny Hughes fired in a shot that hit the goal post. Stars settled and Alan Green added his second marker, after good work by Pekarik and Ben Ealey-Newman, restoring the visitors two goal lead. They soon extended the lead after Pekarik latched onto a long pass after good defensive work from Joe Oliver. Stars nearly scored again when Mike Whillock latched onto a Moore pass only for Smital to save in the home goal. Burton was called on in the Oxfords net to make a string of good saves. The game had been feisty up to this point but again the game exploded as Hornets Bradley Watchorn skated over to the Oxford bench and ended up jumping Stars young defenceman Jason ikin. Hornets Danny House and Stars Moore also received penalties as the players once again paired up. With the end of the period approaching Burton was beaten for the first time after a Josh Martin shot was deflected up and over his shoulder into the corner of the net.
The third period was calm in comparison with what had gone before. The only penalty of the period was called on Hornets Luke Reynolds. It was on this powerplay that Stars completed their scoring with Green hitting his hat trick goal after another slick passing move with Ruzicka and Darren Elliott, There was time for Bracknell to reduce the deficit to two goals with Reynolds firing past Burton, but if truth be told, Stars were well in command and deserved the two points. The result confirmed that the Stars will be in the end of season play offs, and the action on the ice would ensure a bumper crowd on Sunday in the return fixture.
Sunday 21st February
Bracknell Hornets at home
Report by Katie Heath
On Sunday the Oxford City Stars faced the Bracknell Hornets for the second time in two days and only the third time in the season so far, both times the Stars having beaten the Hornets and scored 5 goals. This time it was to be the Hornets who scored 5 goals but the Stars thrashed them with a massive score of 15-5. This was the highest scoreline of any NIHL1 team in the season so far and beat the previous record, also by the Stars, of 13 goals against the Milton Keynes Thunder. With the Stars making 48 shots on goal for the entire game, nearly a third of them resulted in goals in what turned out to be a bad night for the Hornets.
As the first period began, it was the Hornets that made the first scoring attempt, but after that the puck spent most of its time at the other end. A flurry of shots from several different players ended in a goal from Joe Edwards 4 minutes into the game. Less than 20 seconds later came the first penalty of the night when Nick Oliver was called in for tripping. It was to be one of only a few penalties for the Stars as they only racked up a total of 12 minutes (fewer than their goal tally!) to the Hornets’ 91, and there were no more penalties to come for the Stars in the first period, but more goals. The Hornets had a few shots but the Stars had more and so it was no surprise when another goal came just under 9 minutes into the game. This one came straight from a face-off when Alan Green slammed the puck straight into the net with an assist from Ondrej Pekarik. A few punches were thrown after this and they resulted in a penalty for the Hornets, 2+2 being given to Jake Pitchley for cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct. The Hornets almost scored when Luke Reynolds was inadvertently gifted the puck by the Stars, but eventually it was the Stars who added their third goal 12 and a half minutes into the game, this time from Ben Ealey-Newman, assisted by Alan Green. The Hornets almost got a goal just after this but their desperate attempts to get the puck in the net came to nothing. The puck was taken back to the Hornets’ goal and the Stars almost added a fourth goal when Matthew Smital fell over on the ice out of the net. Another penalty came for the Hornets as Harvey Hind-Pitcher was sent in for tripping. Just after this the Stars’ Shane Moore went to hit the puck and accidentally hit the Hornets’ Bradley Watchorn in the face, who was then escorted off the ice. No action was taken as it was clearly an accident. The first goal for the Hornets came with 3 minutes left to play in the period, and it was Ryan Handisides who scored, assisted by Stewart Tait. As the period wound down there was another Hornets penalty, against Tait for tripping, and another Stars goal, this time Darren Elliott with assists from Ealey-Newman and Green. The fourth goal for the Stars was too much for the Hornets’ Brandon Miles, whose outburst earned him a 10 minute misconduct, a 10 minute game misconduct and a match penalty for throwing his stick at the referee.
The second period began with the Stars on a Powerplay, as the Hornets’ Elliot Farrell sat out 5 minutes on behalf of Miles. And just over a minute into the period the Stars scored their fifth goal, a second consecutive for Elliott, assisted by Shane Moore and Ealey-Newman. Five minutes later another followed for Michael Whillock with an assist from Boris Ruzicka, Whillock skating to the net unopposed and slotting the puck into the goal. Tait was shortly after sent to the sin bin for delay of game; despite this, Pitchley managed to get hold of the puck and score a short-handed goal 30 seconds before the penalty expired, assisted by Daniel Hughes. Fresh from scoring his goal, he was then given a penalty for holding after a minor bout of scuffling with the Stars, but the Stars had their own penalty seconds after this with Moore in the box for interference. A minute later the tension between the two sides escalated and the fighting earned both teams penalties- 2+2 for roughing for Ealey-Newman and Reynolds, immediately followed by yet another goal for the Stars, Whillock assisted by Edwards. Tempers flared for the Hornets, with Pitchley being given 2 minutes for high sticks and a 10 minute misconduct penalty. With only 8 minutes left in the period, he skated off the ice, the two minute penalty being served by Farrell. A further penalty was called on Hind-Pitcher for tripping with 5 minutes left in the period; the Stars were not able to convert the Powerplay into a goal but a minute later they scored their 8th, Josh Florey this time assisted by Pekarik. Smital seemed stunned at the number of goals he was letting in, lying on his front on the ice for what seemed like an eternity before pulling himself together.
In the third period, the Stars scored 5 more goals in the first 8 minutes. Alan Green got the first, with an assist from Jake Florey, and the second came from Elliott, his third of the night, assisted by Nick Oliver and Perkarik. Five minutes into the period came the third Hornets goal, Pitchley adding to the tally just after coming back from his misconduct penalty. Elliott scored his fourth goal less than a minute later, a Hornets player entering the net to try and stop the puck, in vain. Pekarik and Moore got the assists this time. The 12th Stars goal was scored by Ruzicka, assisted by Green and Nick Oliver. Immediately the Hornets called a time out, and their tired keeper was replaced by Mark Duffy. A revitalised team tried several more attempts to score but they were denied and instead another Stars goal, by Nick Oliver, with Elliott and Joe Oliver getting the assists this time. A penalty was called on Farrell for slashing with 10 minutes left to play, and it was followed by two Stars’ penalties for slashing, for Green and Whillock. With the Hornets on a 5 on 3 Powerplay, the Stars called a time out, but were unable to prevent the Hornets’ fourth goal, coming from Handisides and assisted by Hughes. With less than 5 minutes left in the game Duffy was injured and left the ice to be replaced once again by Smital. He was immediately beaten as Green took the puck round the outside of the Hornets’ net and slipped the puck past his leg, the assists this time coming from Ealey-Newman and Ruzicka. Thirty seconds later came the Star’s 15th and last goal of the game, this one coming from Josh Florey, assisted by Whillock and Edwards. With 3 minutes left in the game Reynolds entered the penalty box for hooking; despite this, they earned their second short-handed goal of the match, a hat-trick goal for Handisides with an assist from Pitchley. As the game wound down both teams had further shots on goal but neither team added to their tally.