OXFORD City Stars are back in action this weekend for the first time in 18 months.

The Oxpens-based side last played in March 2020, before the NIHL Division One South campaign was abruptly halted by Covid.

Last season was cancelled, but competitive ice hockey resumes later this month.

Stars are preparing with two fixtures against Coventry NIHL Blaze, away tomorrow and at home on Sunday (6.15pm).

Head coach Dean Birrell has recruited wisely during the summer and has created a squad that combines youth and experience.

He said: “We’re looking forward to the challenge weekend and playing in front of our fans again.

“It’s been a long time coming and I’m sure it will be an emotional moment for everyone when we hit the ice again.

“We’ve had a long pre-season to get the squad skating and on the ice after a long time.

“The squad is good, we have signed some very good young players, retained our senior guys and added some additional experience too.

“I’m looking to develop a brand of fast, intense ice hockey at Oxford and we can’t wait to get going again at last.”

Ahead of the challenge weekend, Stars are hosting a supporters’ barbecue at Littlemore Rugby Club this evening from 6pm.

Birrell will sit down with fans for a Q&A for the first hour, with food served from 7pm onwards.

Meanwhile, teenage forward Griff Eden-Parish has re-joined Stars after three seasons in Canada.

The 19-year-old is a graduate of the club’s junior set-up and Birrell is excited to see how much he has developed.

The head coach said: “Griff is another local young lad with great potential.

“He is quick, strong, committed and a team player.

“Along with our young crop of players, he has a fantastic opportunity at Stars.”

Stars begin the campaign at champions Streatham Redhawks on September 18, before hosting Slough Jets the next day.