Oxford City Stars

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Oxford City Stars
Oxford City Stars logo.jpg
City Oxford, United Kingdom
League English National Hockey League
Conference South
Division 2
Founded 1984
Home arena Oxford Ice Rink, Oxpens Road
Capacity: 1,025
Ice size: 184 × 85 feet
Colours Green and Black
Owner(s) Company limited by guarantee
Head coach Darren Elliott / Jeff Sykora
Captain Nick Oliver

Website
www.oxfordstars.co.uk

The Oxford City Stars are an ice hockey team based in Oxford, England. They currently play in the National Ice Hockey League South 2.

History[edit]

1984-1989 - Instant success and consolidation[edit]

In 1984/85 the Stars competed in and won the British League Division 2 (Midlands section). Stars imports were Jimmy Shand, formerly with Southampton Vikings, Tom Smith, signed from Cleveland Bombers, and Urban Johansson, a charismatic Swede who had represented his country at junior level. These were quickly supplemented by a squad of young British players recruited from London and the South of England. These included Dave Newman and Mark Lewis who finished behind Shand and Johansson at the top of the scoring charts. A teenage netminder, Barry Spours, was recruited from Streatham and the squad was taking shape. Stars' closest rivals were Oxford University whose only two defeats came at the hands of the City team, 8-5 in December and 11-2 in the return before a crowd of 1100. In securing the title Stars dropped only one point, an away draw at Nottingham.

The playoffs at the end of that season were one of Stars' finest moments so far . Playing on home ice they defeated Sheffield in the semi-final by 10 goals to 2, and in the final the next day they beat Aviemore 6-1. Johansson scored 8 of their 16 goals.

The 1985/86 season saw Oxford step up a level to the Heineken British League Division 1. Stars retained their trio of imports from the winning season and this proved to be costly. Shand and Johansson were not good enough for the stiffer opposition and with Smith being a blueline defenseman he was unable to influence enough results, Stars managed to win only five matches, which fortunately was more than Blackpool, Southampton and Sheffield.

Changes were made on the import front for 1986/87 with in coming Jack Thornton, "Flying Finn" Jari Virta, and Mike Urquhart. The revolving door that is associated with ice hockey imports had come to Oxford with Don Yewchin arriving from Bournemouth, John Lawless (briefly) on loan from Cardiff, Cory Gelmon (more briefly) from Richmond and Jim Malner, also from Richmond all icing for the Stars that season. Scottish youngsters John Matassa and Scott Gough joined the team, but all to no avail as Stars again won only 5 matches. This time only Irvine finished below them.

There were again changes for 1987/88 following relegation to British League Division 2 where teams were restricted to only two imports and Stars signed Barry Smith, a firebrand forward, and Todd Morgan, a heavily built defenseman. Smith also coached the team and scored an average of nearly five goals a game as Stars finished mid-table winning 16 out of 26 matches.

1988/89 saw the former Bristol sharpshooter Rick Smith and Mike Fafard. Rick took over from his namesake Barry as the main scorer, averaging 6 goals per game. "Faf" averaged nearly 4 goals per game. That season the Stars finished third behind Humberside Seahawks (now Hull Thunder) and Bracknell Bees. 1988 also saw the Stars debut of defenseman Dave Wilson who joined from the Streatham club. The end of the season saw Paul Simpson move on to Humberside.

1990-1997 - League Titles & Difficult Seasons[edit]

1990/91 was the season when Oxford City Stars were crowned champions of English League Division 1, winning out over Milton Keynes on tiebreak by virtue of the results in the matches between them. Both teams won 23 of their 28 games, but Stars all round strength triumphed as they only conceded 111 goals in the campaign. Jamieson and Prachar again formed a dynamic partnership. Stars went into playoffs against the bottom 2 from British League Division 1, Glasgow Saints and Lee Valley Lions. Stars won the two games against their Scottish opposition but lost the two games against Lee Valley.

1991/92 saw Oxford still in ELD1. They started with two Dans, Prachar and Sweeney, as imports for the Cup campaign at the start of the season, then Sweeney was replaced at the start of the league season by John Gravelle. Derek Flint arrived to supplement a nucleus of experienced British players. Stars finished equal third with Streatham Redskins, some distance behind the runaway leaders Medway Bears (now Invicta Dynamos) and Sheffield Steelers.

Another league restructuring saw Stars competing in the ELD1 Northern(?!) Conference in 1992/93. Each team played the others in their conference home and away twice whilst playing the teams in the other conference once home and away. Oxford ended up 5th in their conference, winning 11 of their 32 matches. Gravelle and Prachar were again the imports, whilst the British players were nearly all Oxford based. One player recruited was Darren Derkson, whilst a notable addition to the ranks was coach Brian Kanewischer.

The next season, 1993/94, was beyond doubt a season when Stars were out of their depth. They played in Division 1 North and only managed to win 1 game and draw 2 out of 44. On the import front Prachar was joined at the start of the season by Robert Koutny who lasted only 4 games. His place was taken by Liam Wheddon who was subsequently replaced by Ari-Pekka Mikkola from the Trafford Metros. The other import was Finnish defenseman Pekka Hilden. Hilden and his defensive colleagues were continually overrun in games with the Stars conceding 743 goals in those 44 games at an average of 16 goals per game. Kanewischer's position as coach was taken over by James Cameron.

1994-95 saw the Stars join a number of reserve teams in the English National League Southern Conference following the previous seasons poor showing. It was a maximum of one import per team but many of the teams operated without an import. The Stars squad was made up almost entirely of local Oxford based players, many of whom had played the previous season. The team relied on experienced players like Scott Gough, Daryl Morvan and Paul Donohoe.

The following season, 1995/96, saw the Stars continue in the same division but the introduction of Swede Freddie Andreasson and former Slough Jet Richard Boprey saw the Stars top the table winning 21 of their 22 games but came second in the playoffs (which were run as a mini league). Boprey also coached the team. Their closest challengers were the Raiders of Wightlink (playoff winners) and Romford. A number of the experienced players remained and were supplemented by some useful signings from Swindon. Season 1996/97 saw a mid table finish for the Stars. They won 10 of their 22 games. The team made some further signings from Swindon, including Alan Armour, Grant Bailey and Ian Richards, but lost Andreasson in the second month.

1997-2003 - Senior hockey struggles at Oxford[edit]

1997/98 was a fateful season. Former netminder, forward and defenceman Mike Kellond formed the Oxford Chill. Due to a fault at Oxford Ice Rink the Chill played their opening games at Swindon and never returned!

Following this 1998/99 saw the formation of the Oxford Blades. They played in the English Premier League and achieved a 100% season - losing all 32 games. A mixture of locally based players and some players brought in from other clubs did not provide the right mix. The use of 7 different netminders in one season maybe sums up the season. There was also a lack of firepower up front, the top scorer being Sami Saarinen who scored 18 goals in 16 games. Even the introduction of former Telford and Romford player Mark Budz did not pay off.

1999/2000 saw lots of new signings. Imports Chad Brandimore, Sean Kelso and Dave Stevens together with a number of Swindon based players joined the team and results were starting to pick up, but a large legacy remained from the previous season and attendances did not increase. In October 1999 due to the high costs of running the team the Blades were withdrawn from the league and their record expunged.

2000/2001 saw the return of the Stars. Import defenceman Peter Nyman patrolled the blueline early in the season. Canadians Bill Morra and Jeff Sinnott also iced later on in the season. These, together with a mixture of locals and players from various parts of the South of England, saw the Stars reach 3rd position in the league, going on from this to eventually lose to Billingham Eagles in the semi finals of the English National League play-offs. Coached by James Cameron (Senior) it was a young team that played exciting fast hockey.

The 2001/2002 season started poorly after the high hopes of the close season. Important points were dropped in the early matches whilst player recruitment overran into the season itself, a factor that was ultimately to prove decisive. Results improved and this saw the Stars reach the top position and stay there for a couple of months with a lengthy unbeaten run. Two defeats, late in the season, to the eventual champions Basingstoke, saw the Stars slip to 4th overall. Some good performances in the cup competition saw the Stars reach the cup play-offs. A long trip to Whitley resulted in defeat and the season petered out.

The season of 2002/2003 was approaching and once again pre-season optimism abounded as Stars boosted their ranks with the signing of former Stars player Dan Prachar. Unfortunately it was not to be. Not enough reliable British players could be signed to make up a squad that the club could be confident would fulfill commitments so the Stars pulled out of the league on the eve of the new season.

2003-2009 - Stars rebuild and rebound[edit]

The Stars returned and shone once again under the stewardship of club legend Dan Prachar who assembled an exciting team mixing players from Swindon and Oxford. With crowds improving and the team winning consistently the team finished second only to the all conquering Invicta Dynamos. They also smashed Oxford University in the annual Town v Gown and reached the national cup final only to lose out to Sheffield.

In 2004-05 Despite retaining most of their squad the Stars could not improve on the previous years success however they did sign a sponsorship deal with national restaurant chain Smollenskys. High scoring import and team talisman Derek Flint left to go home to Vancouver. Stars finished second in the division for the second year running as well as reaching the playoff's.

The 2005-06 season saw the Stars enter the Premier league cup as well as the English National league and this stretched the squad too far with the fixtures building up and morale fading. Along with the loss of Derek Flint the team struggled in the lower half of the team despite being able to beat any team on their day. Towards the end of the season coach Dan Prachar was replaced by veteran defenceman Paul Donohoe who steadied the ship till the end of the season.

2006-07 saw the Stars need to rebuild their side after a number of Oxford players sign for the newly formed Swindon Wildcats Development Team. This left the management with work to do finding replacements before the beginning of the 2006–07 season this saw the Stars use more local players than in previous seasons with a number of younger players getting a chance in the team. Under the guidance of coach Darryl Morvan and his assistant Paul Foster the Stars started the season inconsistently but hit form at the right time and shocked everyone by sneaking in to the final play off spot with a last gasp win over local rivals Swindon in front of a partisan crowd in Oxford.

The play offs were a step too far for the young City Stars squad however they still had one last surprise up their sleeve when they beat league champions Invicta Dynamos 4-1 to ruin the Kent clubs play off hopes.

Into 07-08 and Stars finished 3rd in Section A of the Southern Division with Alan Green and Dean Francis leading the way in points scoring. Stars missed out on the playoff's by four points from the Cardiff Dragons. Yet another re-structure then occurred with the English National League splitting itself into a two division format with promotion and relegation between the regionalised conferences and Stars took up their place in ENL Division 1 (South) for the following season.

Stars had a good season in 2008 with head-coach Richie Hargreaves leading the team to a third place finish. Darren Elliott won the points race for the team narrowly from Hargreaves and Stars qualified for the playoff's and took on the Bracknell Hornets. Horrnets had the better of the two-legged tie but the series produced a 9-7 thriller in the second leg at Bracknell.

2009-present : A mix of agony and ecstasy[edit]

The following season (09/10) the league took a major expansion from 8 to 10 side and the strength of the league notably increased as well and gone were the days that a solely English side could compete at the top end of the division. To counter this Stars signed long time Swindon player Ken Forshee. Things started well for the Stars when they had a four point weekend beating Peterborough and Bracknell and when Juraj Rusic signed after playing for the Wightlink Raiders the previous season thing were looking up.

However, due to an injury crisis at EPL Swindon, Rusic signed for a month on loan there and shortly after his return to Oxford was injured for the rest of the season. Stars battled hard and finished a credible 5th but couldn't proceed further than the group stage of the playoffs.

For the 2010/11 season Stars picked up Robin Lindva from Trångsunds IF in Sweden. Despite playing well (and posting a 92% save percentage) Lindva was let go before the signing deadline with Stars Head Coach Ken Forshee becoming a player/coach after the Stars struggled offensively all season and finished in 9th place, missing out on the playoff's by losing to Bracknell on the final day of the season.

Stars pose with the trophy after winning the 2012/13 league title

2011/12 saw the Stars pick up South African import Cameron Birrell and Kiwi Martin Lee as well as signing netminder Chris Douglas. With the results going from bad to worse which saw Stars go on a two-month-long losing streak, the decision was made to fire Forshee replacing him with Simon Anderson. When this happened, eight players walked out of the team, leaving the Stars with no option but to fold as they were unable to field a side.

The shock of the previous seasons events saw a decision to return a team based purely of Oxford based players for the 2012/13 season. Alan Green returned from Chelmsford and went on to be the club's top points scorer. Under the leadership of Darren Elliott and Jeff Sykora they had a rocky start, but after a thrilling 5-0 win over Chelmsford Warriors, they went on a 14-game winning streak, culminating in winning the title by seven points from Wightlink Tigers.

Club roster 2012–13[edit]

The Oxford City Stars roster for the 2012–13 season.[1]

Netminders
No. Nat. Player Date of birth 2011-12 Team Years with Club*
1 England Ricky Young (1990-01-22) 22 January 1990 (age 24) Oxford City Stars ENL2 3
31 England Andy Peterson (1989-07-08) 8 July 1989 (age 25) Oxford Vikings 1
33 England James Skaife (1987-04-29) 29 April 1987 (age 27) Oxford City Stars ENL2 7
Defencemen
No. Nat. Player Date of birth 2011-12 Team Years with Club*
2 England Jayson Lyon (1985-10-18) 18 October 1985 (age 28) Oxford Shooting Stars 2
5 England Allan Stansfield (1983-02-04) 4 February 1983 (age 31) Oxford City Stars ENL2 5
9 England Andy Cox (1982-07-26) 26 July 1982 (age 31) Streatham Redskins 11
12 United States Jeff Sykora (1983-08-24) 24 August 1983 (age 30) Oxford City Stars ENL2 2
15 England James Clarke (1977-10-25) 25 October 1977 (age 36) Oxford City Stars ENL2 13
21 England Joe Oliver (1989-10-08) 8 October 1989 (age 24) Oxford City Stars ENL2 6
36 South Africa Darryl Jones (1981-08-30) 30 August 1981 (age 32) Oxford City Stars ENL2 3
63 England Jonathan Bayliss (1995-10-14) 14 October 1995 (age 18) Oxford U18's 2
Forwards
No. Nat. Player Date of birth 2011-12 Team Years with Club*
3 England Jack Maisey (1994-07-16) 16 July 1994 (age 20) Oxford U18's 3
7 England Josh Oliver (1993-003-30) 30 March 1993 (age 21) RT Bad Nauheim U20 4
14 England Sam Broughton (1988-06-05) 5 June 1988 (age 26) Oxford City Stars ENL2 6
16 England Alan Green (1984-06-20) 20 June 1984 (age 30) Chelmsford Chieftains 6
17 England Warren Jones (1993-07-23) 23 July 1993 (age 21) Oxford City Stars ENL2 6
18 England Michael Raff (1996-02-18) 18 February 1996 (age 18) Oxford City Stars U16 1
23 England Stuart Widdows (1988-11-09) 9 November 1988 (age 25) Oxford City Stars ENL2 6
33 England Sam Arnold (1994-03-24) 24 March 1994 (age 20) Oxford U18's 3
61 England Nick Oliver (1986-06-14) 14 June 1986 (age 28) Oxford City Stars ENL2 10
66 England Joe Edwards (1990-01-30) 30 January 1990 (age 24) Milton Keynes Thunder 5
67 England Jacob Smith (1987-02-19) 19 February 1987 (age 27) Oxford City Stars 7
71 England Dax Hedges (1990-05-14) 14 May 1990 (age 24) Streatham Redskins 6
77 England Darren Elliott (1980-07-07) 7 July 1980 (age 34) Chelmsford Chieftains 14
' England Marlon Williams (1979-05-22) 22 May 1979 (age 35) Oxford City Stars ENL2 7
' England Jack Clements (1995-09-17) 17 September 1995 (age 18) Oxford City Stars U18's 2

'* Years with club counts all of the seasons that they have played Senior hockey for Oxford, not necessarily consecutive.

Honours[edit]

  • British Division 2 (South) Champions - 1984/85, 1990/91, 1995/96
  • British Division 2 Playoff Champions - 1984/85
  • National Ice Hockey League, Division 2 (South) Champions - 2012/13
  • English National League Runners-up - 2003/04, 2004/05
  • English National League Cup Runners-up - 2003/04

Season-by-season record[edit]

'*Stars folded midway through the campaign and all of their results were expunged.

'# Oxford Chill were forced to relocate to Swindon just prior to the start of the league campaign due to a major ice plant failure at the rink. After this happened, they were renamed the Swindon Chill.

Season-by-season record (reserve teams)[edit]

Over the seasons the Stars have periodically iced teams in division as a reserve teams and a season by season list is below:

External links[edit]

Other associated teams[edit]

The Oxford City ice hockey club also has junior and women's teams as follows:-

  • Under 10s (English League South)
  • Under 12s (English League South Division 2)
  • Under 14s (English League South Division 2)
  • Under 16s (English League South Division 2)
  • Under 18s (English League South Division 1)
  • Oxford Midnight Stars (Women's League Division 1 South)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Oxford City Stars 2012–13 Roster". Oxford City Stars.