OXFORD Shooting Stars exceeded their expectations after returning from a competition in Europe with silverware.
The recreational team, affiliated with National League side Oxford City Stars, finished third in the Loisirs Ice Hockey Tournament in Lyon.
It was a significant step forward for the squad, the only foreign side invited to the ten-team competition, who had managed only one draw at last year’s event in Reims.
Pete Smith, Shooting Stars head coach, was thrilled with the outcome.
He said: “I’m so proud for my to team to make history and fly the flag for Oxford, expecially when two years ago most of them had never played hockey before.
“It’s an incredible achievement to get one win against European competition, but for the team to win five times and come so close, it shows how hard they work.”
A 4-1 win in the opening match against Dammerie instantly surpassed their efforts from 2013 and provided the launchpad for a successful campaign.
Nicknamed the “Crazy Green Men” by the French teams for the colour of the jerseys and the fierce pressure they exerted on the ice, Smith’s side went on to win five and draw two of their opening seven games.
It included a 3-0 victory over Grenoble.
Before the game, the Shooting Stars passed on gifts and a letter from Lord Mayor Dee Sinclair, who wished Oxford’s twin town success in the event and hoped to build on the links between the teams.
The run put the Shooting Stars top of the table with two games remaining, but their hopes were hit when Matus Michalek, later named goalkeeper of the tournament, picked up an ankle injury.
Without a back-up, they were forced to loan a replacement from another team.
The reshuffle upset the rhythm and their challenge was scuppered by defeats to Charlesville (3-0) and Mulhouse (6-1).
But disappointment was short-lived as they picked up bronze medals, along with individual awards for Clay Wesenberg, named player of the tournament, and Michalek.
Oxford Shooting Stars squad: Michalek, Hobday, Bird, Kosar, Mokris, Povey, Wesenberg, Schall, Poulter, Blake, Newnes, Wheeler, Edwards, Davies, Lepis, Parker.
Latest Sport news
11:00am Friday 12th February 2016
IF there is one lesson Oxford United have learned from Tuesday night’s draw with Mansfield Town, it is that there is no need to man the panic stations.
9:30am Friday 12th February 2016
Alex MacDonald believes Oxford United have made huge strides in the 12 months he has been at the club.
9:00am Friday 12th February 2016
HEAD coach Michael Appleton admits he is pleased to see Danny Hylton rediscover his scoring form for Oxford United.
8:20am Friday 12th February 2016
MORECAMBE boss Jim Bentley insists the pressure is all on Oxford United tomorrow afternoon.
8:00am Friday 12th February 2016
THERE are signs a new partnership is beginning to flourish down Oxford United’s right flank.
7:50am Friday 12th February 2016
DEFENDER Joe Skarz is hoping Morecambe keeper Barry Roche does not repeat his goalscoring heroics when they make the trip to Lancashire tomorrow.
7:30am Friday 12th February 2016
ROBBIE Cundy says he has grown in confidence since joining Vanarama National League North side Gloucester City on loan.
7:20am Friday 12th February 2016
OXFORD United are confident their pre-season tour will prove even more popular with fans after the success of last year’s trip to Austria.
8:20am Friday 12th February 2016
Banbury United boss Mike Ford has promised an attacking performance as his side welcome fellow play-off contenders North Leigh to the Spencer Stadium tomorrow.
8:10am Friday 12th February 2016
Chinnor hope their fantastic 17-5 victory away to high-riding Old Albanians in National 2 South will turn their season around according to director of rugby Matt Williams.