DEAN Birrell has left his role as head coach of Oxford City Stars with immediate effect.

The 46-year-old departs with the Oxpens outfit eighth in NIHL Division 1 South.

Head of hockey operations Shane Moore will oversee a small team of coaches from the junior club for the rest of the campaign.

Stars say they are in ‘advanced talks’ to appoint a permanent coach for 2022/23 and aim to make an announcement at the end of this season.

In a statement, the club said: “On behalf of everyone at the club we thank Dean for his efforts and wish him well for the future on and off the ice.”

Experienced coach Birrell was appointed in April 2020, but did not take charge of a competitive game until September 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stars have had a tough season in Division 1 South and their current four-match losing run puts them firmly in the penultimate position in the table.

Birrell’s last match in charge was a 4-3 defeat at Slough Jets last weekend.

Stars host basement boys MK Thunder tomorrow evening (6.15pm).

Moore was announced as head of hockey operations this week, having previously been assistant coach and coaching advisor.

His support team includes former Stars captain and current junior head coach Darren Elliott.

Moore said: “This short term solution provides the team with vital continuity at this stage of the season and we’re fully focused on finishing the season as strongly as possible.

“Everyone is fired up for this weekend’s match against MK Thunder and ready to leave everything on the ice in what is a big fixture for us.”