ICE HOCKEY: Battling Stars pipped by Races in thrilling finish

Oxford City Stars’ Jeff Sykora (centre) slots the puck past the netminder, reducing the deficit to 4-3

Oxford City Stars’ Jeff Sykora (centre) slots the puck past the netminder, reducing the deficit to 4-3

First published in Sport

Oxford City Stars crashed to their second successive home defeat as they went down 5-4 to London Haringey Racers in a thrilling English National League South Division 2 clash.

Stars, whose last outing at Oxford Ice Rink saw them slip to a 5-2 cup defeat against Bristol Pitbulls, were trailing 4-2 going into the final period against Haringey.

But goals on the powerplay, from Jeff Sykora and then Josh Florey, who shot home from the point, saw Oxford draw level.

However, Racers’ Rob Jenner grabbed the winner when he shot the puck in from deep and it took huge deflections off Jonathan Bayliss and Jake Florey, leaving netminder James Skaife with no chance.

Stars kept battling, but they couldn’t break the deadlock, and infuriatingly had a breakaway just as time ran out.

The only consolation for Oxford was that leaders Slough lost 4-3 at Cardiff.

However, with Jets having won 5-3 at home to Wightlink Tigers on Saturday, they now have a three-point cushion over second-placed Stars.

Oxford had made the brighter start, but Racers scored first when Ricky Rutherford shot home from close range after receiving a Mason Webster pass.

Stars were shaken, and London wasted several chances to increase their lead before Robert Veares was penalised for hooking.

Oxford immediately got an extra attacker on the ice, and some great passing by Alan Green and Joe Oliver set up Josh Oliver to tap the puck home at the far post.

However, Racers hit straight back with a goal 30 seconds later from Sean Martin to end the first period 2-1 up.

Haringey carried on in the second period where they had left off with Martin striking again with a terrific shot.

Three minutes later, Green reduced the deficit with a shot on the powerplay.

But Racers restored their two-goal cushion almost immediately with Webster on target to set up the exciting final period.

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