DARREN Elliott rose to the occasion at Oxpens with a hat-trick on his final Oxford City Stars league game.

The captain, who has spent 27 years with the club, helped them to an 8-0 thrashing of Cardiff Fire.

Coming a day after a 1-0 success at Chelmsford Chieftains, it secured third place in South Division 2 ahead of the play-offs.

The crowd on Sunday was boosted by ex-teammates wishing to pay tribute to Elliott, who is retiring at the end of the season.

The veteran was given a guard of honour from the squad as he left the home ice for the last time.

He said: “It was such an emotional night for me and I’d like to thank everyone who stayed behind to see me off.

“I’ll never forget it and I’m overwhelmed by the reaction from the fans and the hockey community.

“I’d have been happy with one goal, but to score a hat-trick in my last game at Oxpens completed a special night for me.

“I’ve loved every minute playing at Oxford, it’s meant the world to me to play for my home club.

“It’s such a special, close-knit club and I’ll make sure I stay involved.”

Lee Richardson, acting head coach, added: “The scenes at the end were fantastic as we showed our respect to Darren for his contribution to the club.

“Darren is a great player and a true captain and leader and I doubt we’ll see his achievements repeated.

“We wish him all the very best for the future and cannot thank him enough for everything he has done for the club.”

The farewell party got off to a great start, with Tom Davis scoring against Cardiff after just 35 seconds.

Josh Oliver quickly doubled the advantage, before Elliott’s hat-trick put them 5-0 ahead by the 25th minute.

Mike Whillock and Oliver stretched the advantage before the half-way mark.

Michal Oravec completed the scoring to set up a cruise to the finish line.

On Saturday, netminder Milan Ronai starred in the narrow win at Chelmsford.

Oliver struck the only goal of the game in the final minute of the second period.

After finishing three points behind the top two, Stars now refocus on winning the play-offs.

Held over one weekend at Bracknell, they will face Solent Devils in the semi-final on April 20.