Simon Anderson is looking for a positive start to 2020 when Oxford City Stars travel to Milton Keynes Thunder tomorrow.

The team begin the year in a healthy sixth place in Division 1 South of the National Ice Hockey League as they head into the second half of the season.

Stars have suffered an unprecedented number of injuries recently and will rest several players for the trip to the division’s bottom-placed side.

Imports Ryan Widmar (illness) and David Manning (broken hand) are out, along with Max Florey (broken ribs) and Jake Florey (back).

Defenceman Alex Staples has also been unavailable for selection.

Anderson has moved to bolster the squad, bringing in Jason Ikin this week.

The new arrival followed the signings of defensive players Adam Andrews from Telford Tigers and Nidal Phillips from tomorow’s opponents last month.

Phillips and Andrews have made an immediate impact, helping Stars to some big wins before Christmas, including a shoot-out victory against the league leaders Solent Devils.

Anderson, Stars’ head coach, said: “We can’t wait to get back in action this weekend.

“The break has enabled us to rest some weary bodies and hopefully get our injured players somewhere close to full fitness.

“We will not have any of our injured guys back on Sunday, but I’m hopeful we will have a full-strength roster come the following weekend’s double header with Cardiff and Chelmsford.

“The only major concern is Ryan Widmar, who has been struggling with a mystery illness and he is now home in Chicago resting.

“We will know more within ten days or so and we are hopeful that he fully recovers and that is the most important thing.”

Stars’ recent form means they sit just four points off the top half of the table ahead of tomorrow’s clash.

They lost 7-0 at Chelmsford Chieftains on the final weekend before Christmas, but Anderson’s men beat Invicta Dynamos 5-2 and overcame Cardiff Fire 9-6 earlier in December.

It represents a significant improvement in results after a difficult start to life back in Division 1 South.

Anderson is satisfied with his side’s current position, but maintains there is more to come in the coming months.

The head coach added: “I will be looking for us to be more consistent in the second half of the season.

“We have lost a lot of points from winning positions and so it’s important that winning becomes a habit.

“Sitting in sixth place at the break has pleased me, as that is where I felt we should be at the time.

“However, working with this group of players, I now feel on reflection that we can look above that and that is what we will be aiming to do in the second half of the season.”

Face off at MK Thunder is 6.45pm, before Stars gear up for next weekend’s double header.

They visit Cardiff next Saturday before returning to Oxpens the following day to face high-fliers Chelmsford Chieftains, with face off at 6.15pm.