ICE HOCKEY: Double delight as Stars go clear at top

The Oxford Times: The Stars players come together to celebrate a goal in their 10-1 win over Lee Valley Lions The Stars players come together to celebrate a goal in their 10-1 win over Lee Valley Lions

OXFORD City Stars returned to the top of the English National League South Division 1 table after two emphatic back-to-back victories.

A 6-2 derby success over Swindon Wildcats was followed by a 10-1 thrashing of Lee Valley Lions as Stars moved three points clear, passing the 100-goal mark in the process.

Josh Oliver opened the scoring in Swindon, converting a Jacob Smith pass to put Stars ahead.

Darren Elliott doubled the lead with a powerful slapshot on the powerplay as the visitors led 2-0 after the opening period.

Swindon brought on several under 18 players, and this ensured a quick tempo after the restart.

The Oxford Times:

  • Oxford’s Andy Cox manages to keep Matthew Drake at bay

However, it was Oxford who struck again just before the halfway point when a shot from Jake Florey was tipped in by Alan Green.

Moments later, Oxford scored their second powerplay goal when Florey pounced on the rebound from a Joe Oliver shot.

Zach Dolphin made it 5-0 with a goal against his old club, for whom his older brother plays.

Swindon pulled one back in the final period when Glenn Billing converted a Jan Melichar pass, but Jacob Smith restored the five-goal advantage.

The Oxford Times:

  • Josh Florey squeezes between Nicholas Alley (left) and Romanas Fedotovas

The hosts had the last word when Tom Rutkis seized on a poor defensive clearance, but Stars ran out convincing winners.

Oxford were out for revenge when Lee Valley visited the city 24 hours later.

The Lions had ended Stars’ 20-game winning streak earlier in the season, and the hosts were in no mood to suffer a repeat.

They got off to a dreadful start, however, when after just 17 seconds, Latvian sniper Romanas Fedotovas fired home from a Richard Hodge pass.

A series of hard hits and penalties upset the flow of the game, but Oxford equalised through a rare short-handed goal when a Joe Oliver clearance rebounded off the boards and was pounced on by Green, who controlled before sliding the puck under Aaron Mallet.

The same player then put Oxford in front when they were two men to the good, before an ugly incident saw Lions captain James Hatfull given a match penalty.

Hatfull had already been penalised for cross-checking, but made contact as Andy Cox celebrated, catching the Stars man in the face, and cutting his lip.

Oxford made the most of the extra man in the second period, scoring three powerplay goals in thre minutes.

The Oxford Times:

  • Sam Broughton eyes up a loose puck as Stars record a convincing victory over Lee Valley Lions

Elliott made it 3-1, before James Pentecost and Broughton gave Stars breathing space.

They were hit by a match penalty of their own, however, when Joe Edwards’s stick caught the mouth of Matthew Drake and the home player was ejected.

But it could not Stars’ charge towards victory.

Smith pounced on a rebound from Jon Bayliss’s shot to put Oxford 6-1 ahead – the first goal with both sides at full strength.

Nick Oliver hit No 7, before the second period ended with a series of further penalties which saw Stars trio Elliott, Florey and Joe Oliver and Lee Valley duo Theo Abban and Nick Alley sin-binned.

Stars completed their domination in the third period, scoring three further goals to complete an emphatic victory.

Josh Oliver’s great solo effort made it 8-1, before Elliott and Pentecost each added their second of the evening.

Stars, who do not have another league game until March, will now be hoping their rivals drop points as they look to close down the table-toppers.

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