National Ice Hockey League Division 1

1984-1989

Instant success and consolidation

In 1984/85 the Stars competed in and won the British League Division 2 (Midlands section). Stars imports were Jimmy Shand, formerly with Southampton Vikings, Tom Smith, signed from Cleveland Bombers, and Urban Johansson, a charismatic Swede who had represented his country at junior level.

These were quickly supplemented by a squad of young British players recruited from London and the South of England. These included Dave Newman and Mark Lewis who finished behind Shand and Johansson at the top of the scoring charts. A teenage netminder, Barry Spours, was recruited from Streatham and the squad was taking shape. Stars’ closest rivals were Oxford University whose only two defeats came at the hands of the City team, 8-5 in December and 11-2 in the return before a crowd of 1100. In securing the title Stars dropped only one point, an away draw at Nottingham.

The playoffs at the end of that season were one of Stars’ finest moments so far . Playing on home ice they defeated Sheffield in the semi-final by 10 goals to 2, and in the final the next day they beat Aviemore 6-1. Johansson scored 8 of their 16 goals.

The 1985/86 season saw Oxford step up a level to the Heineken British League Division 1. Stars retained their trio of imports from the winning season and this proved to be costly. Shand and Johansson were not good enough for the stiffer opposition and with Smith being a blueline defenseman he was unable to influence enough results, Stars managed to win only five matches, which fortunately was more than Blackpool, Southampton and Sheffield.

Changes were made on the import front for 1986/87 with in coming Jack Thornton, “Flying Finn” Jari Virta, and Mike Urquhart. The revolving door that is associated with ice hockey imports had come to Oxford with Don Yewchin arriving from Bournemouth, John Lawless (briefly) on loan from Cardiff, Cory Gelmon (more briefly) from Richmond and Jim Malner, also from Richmond all icing for the Stars that season. Scottish youngsters John Matassa and Scott Gough joined the team, but all to no avail as Stars again won only 5 matches. This time only Irvine finished below them.

There were again changes for 1987/88 following relegation to British League Division 2 where teams were restricted to only two imports and Stars signed Barry Smith, a firebrand forward, and Todd Morgan, a heavily built defenseman. Smith also coached the team and scored an average of nearly five goals a game as Stars finished mid-table winning 16 out of 26 matches.

1988/89 saw the former Bristol sharpshooter Rick Smith and Mike Fafard. Rick took over from his namesake Barry as the main scorer, averaging 6 goals per game. “Faf” averaged nearly 4 goals per game. That season the Stars finished third behind Humberside Seahawks (now Hull Thunder) and Bracknell Bees. 1988 also saw the Stars debut of defenseman Dave Wilson who joined from the Streatham club. The end of the season saw Paul Simpson move on to Humberside.

1990 – 1997

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Stewart Tait signs for Oxford

18th July 2017

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