A POOR spell early in the third period proved decisive as Oxford City Stars lost for the first time this season.

After two tight periods which ebbed and flowed, hosts Bracknell Hornets eased clear with three powerplay goals in just over two minutes to set up a 9-6 victory.

The National League Division 2 South clash was an early test of the sides’ credentials, following back-to-back successes on the opening weekend of the season.

Stars were hit by an early blow, with Darren Elliott ejected from the game after 75 seconds for a kneeing penalty which left Steven Fisher needing medical attention.

Both sin-bins were busy early on, but Stars opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Matt Lawday finished off a flowing move involving Joe Edwards and Josh Oliver.

The contest see-sawed, with William Stead equalising before Jake Florey put Stars in front once more.

Hornets levelled before the end of the first period in bizarre fashion – Sean Scarborough tapping into an empty goal after netminder Mark Duffy had overshot the loose puck.

The second period saw the pattern continue.

Twice Stars came from behind, through Kamil Kinkor and Jason Ikin, but the hosts went into the second interval 5-4 up thanks to goals from Scarborough, Fisher and Stead.

Stars began the third period brightly, but could not break through and instead were punished on the powerplay.

Ben Ealey-Newman, Jack Tarczycki and Scarborough scored in quick succession to put Hornets 8-4 up.

Oliver and Lawday struck late on, sandwiching a goal from Harvey Hind-Pitcher, but it was too late to get back into the game.

Stars return to Oxpens this Sunday, when Slough Jets visit (6.15).