OXFORD City Stars have confirmed the team’s intention to compete in the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Division One South next season after more than a year without any action.

The Stars are seeking a return to competitive action – with crowds – for the 2021/22 season in September.

The team has not played since March 2020, however there has been regular communication between the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) and other clubs.

Head coach Dean Birrell is active in the player recruitment market and it is hoped new signings will be announced in the coming weeks.

See also: Karl Robinson on prospect of playing football ‘giant’ in pre-season

The league format for the 2021/22 season has not yet been confirmed, although the Stars are in talks with Fusion, which operates the ice rink, regarding matchday operations.

For that reason, it is deemed too early to put season tickets on sale.

Stars’ director Greig Box Turnbull said: “We are excited about a return in September. By the time the Stars skate out at Oxpens again, we would have had an 18-month void.

“Everyone has missed ice hockey and many are looking forward to continuing to return to a sense of normality.

“We understand the return still depends on the status of the pandemic and Government guidelines, but we are optimistic at this stage.

“It is important we plan for a return to action to ensure we are ready.

“When we do get back on the ice, it will be an incredible moment for everyone.”

Read more: Ex-Oxford United coach wins historic league title in Australia

In January, the Stars opted out of a NIHL mini-season.

The Stars told the EIHA they would not compete, and instead used the time to get ready for the 2021/22 season.

Logistical problems made competing a challenge, with players part-time and coming from as far as Cardiff, Bristol and London, therefore they were unable to form a bubble.

A reduced campaign was sought after ice hockey received funding from the Government.

Fellow director Jo Mundy added: “It is a challenge for the club after more than a year with no income and we will be working hard to attract sponsors and promote our fixtures, as always.

“We hope the Oxfordshire public back the club as always and together we can get the show back on the road.

“We are looking forward to welcoming people back and seeing everyone again.

“We will need people to support the club and the players more than ever.”

The junior club has returned to weekly training sessions, which coincided with the reopening of the rink.