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ICE HOCKEY: Stars make it a perfect ten
9:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Sport
Alan Green fires home the opening goal, leaving Peterborough goalie Samuel James on the ice during the South Division 2 clash Pictures: Denis Kennedy
OXFORD City Stars made it ten straight victories with arguably their most important success of the season – a 5-2 success over title rivals Peterborough Islanders.
The terrific run has seen them return to the top of the South Division 2 table with three games in hand over their nearest rivals.
A bumper crowd at Oxford Ice Rink saw the in-form hosts go into the match in second place by virtue of Peterborough’s narrow success against Romford Fury a day earlier.
But Stars ensured they would be top dogs once again after a superb team display.
With so much riding on the game, the opening passages of play proved scrappy, with neither side wanting to make an early error.
Peterborough’s Connor Hunter was given a penalty for charging, and while the visitors thought they had seen out the powerplay, with just seconds remaining Dax Hedges and Jacob Smith combined to play in Alan Green, who fired into the top-right corner of the net to open the scoring.
Oxford’s Andy Cox picked up a roughing penalty with a few minutes of the period left, but Peterborough never threatened the Stars goal and the hosts ended the first period with a 1-0 advan- tage.
The advantage was doubled early in the second period with one of the goals of the season.
Cox got the puck to Green, who flew down the right wing before playing a pinpoint pass for Darren Elliott to flick the puck into the roof of the net, giving Peterborough’s netminder Samuel James no chance.
The visitors were struggling to contain Stars and when Leon Groom was penalised for interference, the hosts took full advantage by going 3-0 ahead when Smith fired in at the far post after a pass from man-of-the-match Hedges.
The goal rocked Peterborough, whose ill-discipline struck again when Adam Cawkwell started a fight with Oxford’s Joe Edwards and was sent off for the 14 minutes left in the period.
Stars kept pushing forward and were too good for their opponents.
A defensive error let in Hedges, who smartly passed across goal for Sam Broughton to tap into a half-empty net.
At 4-0 up with 20 minutes to play, Stars were guilty of a bit of complacency heading into the final period.
Islanders scored two quick goals from Alex Whyte and Connor Stokes to halve the lead.
However, the hosts quickly managed to restore their composure and dealt with the situation professionally, immediately upping their work rate.
And they soon got their reward when their third powerplay goal of the night sealed what could be a crucial victory – Joe Oliver firing home through a crowd of players from long range for a classic defender’s goal.
The victory leaves Stars needing just three points to secure the championship.
They are at home to Cardiff this Sunday, before then facing a trip to Peterborough – who have just one game remaining – a week after.
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