Oxford City Stars were today delighted to announce their first signings for their upcoming National Ice Hockey League Division 2 campaign with the return to Oxford of Darren Elliott, Jeff Sykora and Joe Oliver.
Elliott, known locally as “Mr Oxford”, has played nearly all of his career at Oxpens Road. Darren first played senior hockey at Oxford in the 1998/99 season during the Oxford Blades era and made an instant impact. Since then he has played for Oxford every season since 2003/04 and averaged around two points a game. After the ENL1 Stars folded in January, he received several offers from around the league and chose to sign for the Chelmsford Chieftains who went on to win the ENLS1 Playoff Championship.
American Jeff Sykora will also return to the side for his 2nd season with the Stars. Jeff has tremendous experience in the game from the US where he was player/coach for Oklahoma State University between 2004-06. He then followed this with a period as a non-player coach as well as taking control of the back office after being appointed President of the programme. After moving to England, he returned to playing in our ENL2 side and averaged a point a game. He also took up the coaching reigns half way through the season.
Elliott and Sykora will form the Stars coaching team for the 2012/13 season. Both will be in the role of player-coach's allowing them to bring their vast experience both on and off the ice. In addition to their roles in the senior side, both are very active with the Oxford Junior Stars: Sykora will remain in his position of Director of Coaching and Elliott will take on the role of Head Coach for the junior club. These twin responsibilities will also help in identifying and developing the Oxford Stars players of the future.Speaking about the new setup Jeff said “It is shaping up to be an exciting turning point for us this season. Having Darren back as both a player and an integral part of the coaching staff is a huge step forward for our club. Plans that Darren and I have will, without adoubt, see us finishing well above where we finished this past season. I am looking forward to getting things kicked off with trials in a little over a month's time.
Stars are also able to announce their first non-coaching player signing of the season with the return of Joe Oliver. Oliver, played for the Stars at the start of his career before heading down the A420 to Swindon ENL Wildcats for the next two seasons. When Oxford's ENL2 side was formed he returned to the Stars and lead them in point scoring with 31 points in 20 games in the 11/12 season. Joe will be a crucial offensive threat for the team.