FOLLOWING a turbulent summer for British ice hockey which briefly saw Oxford City Stars on the brink of collapse, the club is raring to get their new campaign under way this weekend.

A complicated restructure of the league system nearly forced the Stars out of business.

But the club re-grouped to confirm their participation in English National League Division 2 South.

The eagerly-awaited season starts with a trip to Guildford Phoenix on Saturday night, followed by the first home game of the season 24 hours later when Bristol Pitbulls come to Oxpens.

Stars’ first game against local rivals Swindon Wildcats is on Saturday, January 20 in Swindon, with the return fixture scheduled for Sunday, February 25.

The campaign ends on April 7 with a trip to Solent Devils.

Kenny Redmond was appointed as head coach in June and promptly recruited a strong squad of players and backroom staff.

Glasgow-born Redmond, who is also head coach of the Ireland national team, was previously at the Bracknell Hornets and made more than 450 appearances over a 20-year playing career.

And he is itching to take charge of the Stars for the first time.

“After what seems a very long off season, we can’t wait to get going,” he said.

“We’ve been training for some weeks now, which has been great for me in terms of getting the guys together and working them hard, but there’s nothing like taking to the ice for a competitive game.

“I’m really looking forward to the prospect of competing in the new NIHL South 2.

He added: “Our aim is to be challenging at the right end of the table come the end of the season, and we’ll be going into every single game wanting to win.

“They players have been great in training – their work ethic is incredible.

“They’ve adapted well to the new tactics and strategies I’m looking to introduce.

“As long as that attitude continues I’m confident that we’ll all have a successful season.”

Several new faces have joined, including Alex Staples, from last season’s champions Chelmsford Chieftains, the experienced Stewart Tait and prolific goalscorer Kamil Kinkor.

Stars have also crucially man-aged to retain a number of key players, including captain Darren Elliott, Joe Edwards, Dax Hedges, Dom Hopkins and net-minder Mark Duffy.

The club have also bolstered the coaching set-up, with club legends Darryl Morvan and Scott Gough joining as head of hockey operations and assistant coach.

Gough, who played 232 times for the Stars during a number of spells between 1985 and 2006, scoring more than 330 goals, was voted by fans as their all-time club legend last year.

His standing at the club means he has a stand named after him at Oxpens.

“It’s been great to be back at Oxford,” he said.

“I love the place and when my old friend Kenny Redmond asked me to join, it was an easy decision.

“I started my career at Oxford and it has always been a special club for me.

“It’s like a second home and I can’t wait for the season to start now and help drive the club forward.

“We have a good squad of very committed and talented players.

“We are focused on working hard and delivering as many wins as possible.”