The Bristol Honda Pitbulls can confirm that we will be partnering with the Oxford City Stars in the NIHL 1 South Division.
This agreement will see the Pitbulls be able to loan players to the Stars, allowing a link between the National Division squad and the next highest division to further develop local talent and see the Pitbulls have their stamp on all levels of British hockey, with the 2s remaining in NIHL2 South and the existing link with the Cardiff Devils in the Elite League.
The Oxford City Stars could only manage a disappointing 8th place finish in the 2021-22 season, but a change of staff should see improvements, with Simon Anderson returning to Oxford for his fourth spell as head coach, backed up by Shane Moore as Head of Hockey Operations.
Bristol Pitbulls owner Richie Hargreaves had the said the following
“We are big advocates of developing young players and always keen to keep pathways open in terms of giving players the opportunity to develop and succeed, ideally as a part of the Pitbulls organisation. Many other sports in this country have this at their disposal and we are no different. We hope that by giving players a platform to play to the highest level they can, they will reach their potential and find themselves playing regular Pitbulls hockey.”
Jamie Elson had the following to say about the partnership
“We are going into National League for our first season, and we are busy building a team for that challenge, the bigger picture is that we are trying to build a club from top to bottom, giving ourselves the best possible foundations to build from to enable us to have success as we move forward.
“Last season, we put together a team that contained a lot of exciting prospects, and we are continuing this trend as we prepare the National League team. We want to be a club where young talent want to come to play and develop, and with our partnership with the Cardiff Devils in the Elite League, we have that pathway to the highest level in the UK. But we wanted to make sure we have opportunities for players at all levels, and the chance for players to make steps all the way through from our NIHL2 team up to the first team and beyond. So being able to put a formal partnership in place with Oxford at NIHL1 level was an important part of our club structure for next season.
“We now have the option of signing players and retaining them in Bristol as we work with them, but in effect loan them out to get game time in Oxford in NIHL1. We have several players who were key parts of our roster last year who will benefit from this link-up, developing them into players that can play at the National League level. We are excited to take this forward and hope that it will be the start of a very successful partnership between us”
Oxford City Stars’ Head of Hockey Operations Shane Moore on the partnership
“I’m really excited that we have teamed up with the Pitbulls organisation to give players a pathway through the leagues. They set a great example last season in giving young players an opportunity, and we are keen to work with them and offer those opportunities to players who want to progress. Jamie and I have had many conversations now to develop this relationship for both clubs and players and to ensure we all had the same vision.
“This is a strong strategic partnership for us, and we are looking forward to working closely together with Jamie, Richie & the rest of the organisation and developing the next generation of players between us.”