National Ice Hockey League Division 2 (South)

Stars Edged Out In Play-Off First Leg

Match report: London Raiders vs Stars, NIHL Play off quarter final 1st leg

28th March 2017    Match

25th March 2017

Oxford City Stars travelled to London for the first leg of the play off quarter finals in confident mood and hit the ice running catching the home side cold in the first period. Stars’ opening goal in the 3rd minute was scored by defenceman Jason Ikin with a shot from the blue line with the assist going to Hallam Wilson. The industrious Darren Elliott then went close with Raiders netminder Euan King making the glove save. Stars were dominating the game and it was no surprise when, in the 8th minute, they doubled their lead. Alan Green disposed of London’s JJ Pitchley in the Raiders defensive zone and found Josh Oliver who finished past King. Stars then had a man advantage as Ikin and Raiders Brandon Miles came together with the home player receiving an extra two minutes compared to Ikin. Although Stars pushed forward and set up several chances, they were unable to beat King. The play was then interrupted for several minutes whilst some blood was removed from the ice as Stars’ Jesse Lye received a nasty cut, above his eye from a challenge at centre ice. The injury was to see Lye play no further part in the game. 0-2 after 20 minutes.

Whatever was said in the home dressing room during the first interval served them well as a different Raiders team emerged, on the front foot, and with a man advantage as Stars’ Ben Paynter was still serving part of a slashing penalty incurred at the back end of the first period. It was just over a minute into the 2nd period when the Raiders halved their deficit when Marek Nahlik fired home a loose puck after Stars netminder Mark Duffy had saved the initial attempt from Pitchley. The game then became scrappy as each side probed for the next goal. Stars’ Brendan Baird took a two minute penalty for tripping and on the resultant powerplay Pitchley scored the equaliser when his shot appeared to have been saved by Duffy, only for the Stars netminder to watch agonisingly as the puck squirmed away from him and over the line. 2-2 after 40 minutes.

The third period saw Stars under immediate pressure and Duffy was by far the busier of the two netminders. He made an outstanding stop from Alan Lack but was then beaten in the 47th minute when the puck was played out from behind the Stars goal for Pitchley to skate onto and fire past Duffy. Stars settled into their work again and despite some hard work were unable to beat King. Stars best efforts falling to Joe Edwards and Paynter. London had a great chance to double their lead when Tom Davis missed an open goal. With less than three minutes remaining however Raiders did double their lead when Pitchley completed his hat trick when the puck was deflected off his skate past Duffy from close range. There was just time for Miles and Ikin to have a further skirmish and their resulting penalties saw them sit out the remaining game time.

So a 4-2 defeat for the Stars was not what the doctor ordered, but it set up an intriguing 2nd leg at Oxpens Road the following evening.

Ian Dibley

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