DEAN Birrell praised Oxford City Stars’ fight as they picked up their first point of the season against MK Thunder at Oxpens.

The hosts were 3-0 down going into the final period, but a double from Dax Hedges and goals by Theo Bundock, Logan Prince and Josh Oliver made it 5-5 at the end of regulation time.

MK won 6-5 in overtime to pick up the extra point, but Stars will take heart from the display after losing 2-1 at Slough Jets the previous day.

Birrell’s side sit eighth in NIHL Division One South after a tough opening fortnight of the season and will use a free weekend to regroup.

The head coach said: “The squad showed spirit in the final period to come back into the match so strongly.

“We’ll take the positives from that, they showed what they can do, but overall, it’s been a difficult start to the season.

“We have been in every game, but not quite got over the line so far.

“We now have an opportunity to really look at what we have.

“I’ve only seen the team in four competitive matches since I signed them.

“So, we’ll use this fortnight to reflect, assess the players, our systems and improve what we do.”

Stars were beaten by Streatham Redhawks and Slough on the opening weekend, before claiming their first point at the fourth time of asking.

The club have drafted in Ryan Aldridge to work with coaches and players over the next six weeks.

The Okanagan Hockey Academy head coach has previously led Bracknell Bees to the EPL League and play-off championships.

Aldridge has also coached in the UK Elite League with Basingstoke Bison, as well as previously taking charge of Great Britain’s Under 19s and Under 16s.

Birrell said: “Ryan will come in and provide us with an outside perspective on our squad, systems and tactics.

“As a coach I’m always open to fresh ideas, building best practice and new learnings and working with other coaches to make sure we add the best possible value.

“Ryan is a very experienced coach, who has coached at Elite League level and will be a great boost to us and our player development.

“His insights and guidance will be invaluable to both the Stars and our junior club.”