Senior hockey struggles at Oxford
1997/98 was a fateful season. Former netminder, forward and defenceman Mike Kellond formed the Oxford Chill. Due to a fault at Oxford Ice Rink the Chill played their opening games at Swindon and never returned!
Following this 1998/99 saw the formation of the Oxford Blades. They played in the English Premier League and achieved a 100% season – losing all 32 games. A mixture of locally based players and some players brought in from other clubs did not provide the right mix. The use of 7 different netminders in one season maybe sums up the season. There was also a lack of firepower up front, the top scorer being Sami Saarinen who scored 18 goals in 16 games. Even the introduction of former Telford and Romford player Mark Budz did not pay off.
1999/2000 saw lots of new signings. Imports Chad Brandimore, Sean Kelso and Dave Stevens together with a number of Swindon based players joined the team and results were starting to pick up, but a large legacy remained from the previous season and attendances did not increase. In October 1999 due to the high costs of running the team the Blades were withdrawn from the league and their record expunged.
2000/2001 saw the return of the Stars. Import defenceman Peter Nyman patrolled the blueline early in the season. Canadians Bill Morra and Jeff Sinnott also iced later on in the season. These, together with a mixture of locals and players from various parts of the South of England, saw the Stars reach 3rd position in the league, going on from this to eventually lose to Billingham Eagles in the semi finals of the English National League play-offs. Coached by James Cameron (Senior) it was a young team that played exciting fast hockey.
The 2001/2002 season started poorly after the high hopes of the close season. Important points were dropped in the early matches whilst player recruitment overran into the season itself, a factor that was ultimately to prove decisive. Results improved and this saw the Stars reach the top position and stay there for a couple of months with a lengthy unbeaten run. Two defeats, late in the season, to the eventual champions Basingstoke, saw the Stars slip to 4th overall. Some good performances in the cup competition saw the Stars reach the cup play-offs. A long trip to Whitley resulted in defeat and the season petered out.
The season of 2002/2003 was approaching and once again pre-season optimism abounded as Stars boosted their ranks with the signing of former Stars player Dan Prachar. Unfortunately it was not to be. Not enough reliable British players could be signed to make up a squad that the club could be confident would fulfill commitments so the Stars pulled out of the league on the eve of the new season.