NIHL1 Report: Bristol 10 Oxford 2

Nov 22, 2021

The Bristol Honda Pitbulls maintained their 100% home record with another convincing win, beating the Oxford City Stars 10-2.

The game took on a special significance since Stars allowed Pitbulls to share Oxford Ice Rink during the nine seasons Bristol went without a rink and this was Oxford’s first chance to see Bristol’s new home.

That familiarity went beyond geography, however, with a number of players having played for both teams over recent years. Seven of Bristol’s current NIHL1 squad and four of Oxford’s players have worn both team’s colours, including both starting goalies for the game, John Dibble and Ross Miller.

The large winning margin was a particular surprise given how strong Oxford’s results were from the previous weekend. A single goal defeat to runaway league leader Streatham followed by a road win at third placed Invicta showed the team were far better than their eighth place in the league table implied.

However, Pitbulls Head Coach, Jamie Elson, was able to reflect on a Bristol team performance that highlighted the huge depth in talent that he has been able to recruit for his team.

He said: “As a group we were much better week on week compared to last Saturday. With the exception of the two power-plays we faced at the start of the second period, we controlled a good 50 minutes of the game and it’s hard then for an away team with a smaller bench to match us.

“Guys to a man were great and I have to give them credit. They bought in and played the right way and we were a real handful to control.

“Once again it’s great to see offence and goals coming from every line and that’s where we can really be dangerous.  When we are all on the same page and playing hard every shift like that we are going to have success more often then not, so the challenge for guys is to bring it to that level consistently now. Hopefully we have set ourselves up now for the tough trip to Invicta tomorrow.”

Bristol set an early message with Olly Shone opening the scoring inside two minutes. The rest of the first period was then largely one-way traffic as Bristol dominated play. Two further goals gave Bristol a strong lead at the first break, while Ross Miller, having already faced 23 shots in this period alone, looked resigned to the knowledge that he was in for a long night.

Oxford scored on two early second period penalties for Bristol, leaving Pitbulls looking vulnerable for the only time in the game. They needed a further five minutes to steady the ship, but three goals in five minutes to see the period out saw the home team back in control.

A four goal third period for Bristol saw some landmarks set. Shone’s assists on Bristol’s eighth goal made him only the third player to reach 300 points for the club and Man of the Match Mason Lipsey recorded the first hat trick of the season when he scored Bristol’s ninth goal. Miller received Oxford’s Man of the Match in recognition of a stellar performance in the face of 70 shots on his goal.

Pitbulls travelled to Gillingham the following night. However, the ice surface was deemed unsafe and the team were forced to return without the game having been played.