OXFORD CITY STARS 3 - CHELMSFORD CHIEFTAINS 1 Chelmsford Chieftains were on the road this weekend, something they need to get familiar with as they won’t be on Riverside Ice until the Spring of 2019. On Sunday they travelled to Oxford to take on pre-season favourites Oxford City Stars in what was billed at the crunch game. Chieftains have remained unbeaten this season and the Stars have been beaten once as they suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Guildford Phoenix last week. A large army of Chieftains fans made the journey and what a fantastic game they witnessed. Chieftains went into the game with a full squad including the returning defenceman Rob Veares who was re signed from Romford midweek and Sonny Phillips was picked by coach Joe Wilson as the chosen netminder for the day. From the first puck drop Chieftains took the game to the home side and were given their first powerplay chance of the night when Josh Oliver for sin binned for tripping. Chieftains pressured the Oxford net but the defence and netminder John Dibble held firm. Powerplay over but Chieftains were getting the better of the early exchanges and at 7:05 the pressure paid off when a James Ayling pass was slotted home by Captain Ross Brears to give them the early lead. Oxford looked for the reply with ex-Chieftain Michal Oravec looking dangerous whenever he got the puck. Chieftains suffered more pressure when Charlie Phillips was given a two minute penalty for tripping at 9:55. This time it was Sonny Phillips turn in the Chieftains net to deny the Stars with a couple of outstanding saves. Both teams back to five skaters and the game was both fast and physical. At 17:31 the tension boiled over with Chieftains forward Ross Cowan dropping gloves with Dax Hedges. Both players were given 2+2 for fighting. The skirmish raised the temperature within the rink even higher and both teams were happy to hear the buzzer at the end of the first period, Chieftains taking a slender 1-0 lead into the dressing room. Within seconds of the restart Chieftains were celebrating once again. Dibble in the Oxford net lost the puck under him and the puck crossed the goal line. But the celebrations went silent as the officials signalled no goal. Chieftains were now getting the better of the home side but new signing Veares was given a two minute sin bin for kneeing and the Stars took full advantage of the extra man, Josh Oliver tying the game at 1-1 at 33 minutes. This gave the home side the boost they needed and three minutes later they took the lead when Joe Edwards squeezed in a shot past Phillips from a very tight angle. The second period ended with Chieftains needing to come from behind in the last twenty minutes to take the points. Both Dom Hopkins and Joe Edwards were given penalties, giving Chieftains an 5 on 3 powerplay early in the period but Dibble was standing firm in the oppositions net as was their defence marshalled by another ex-Chieftain Alex Staples. At 49:59 flashpoint as once again the tension boils over and both Charlie Phillips and Grant Bartlett + Edwards and Florey are given 2+2 penalties for fighting. Bartlett was given an extra two for cross checking. From the resultant powerplay Oxford stretched their lead further. Darren Elliot awarded what was going to be a controversial goal as it was an identical scenario to the one scored by the Chieftains early in the second period. The only difference is this time the referee signalled the goal. Now 3-1 with ten minutes remaining but with a two goal lead the Stars concentrated on defence and although Chieftains were given a two minute powerplay with just under two minutes remaining they couldn’t break through the defensive wall . As the buzzer sounded to end the game the travelling Chieftains had to taste defeat for the first time this season. The only positive was they had just been involved in an excellent game of ice hockey, a superb advert for the game. Chieftains still sit on top of the pile with a 4pt cushion over both Slough Jets and Oxford, the latter having two games in hand. This weekend the Chieftains are away at Guildford on Saturday with a 5.30pm face-off
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!