DEAN Birrell was delighted with Oxford City Stars’ big finish as they claimed their first win of the season.

The Oxfordshire side had lost 5-3 at Raiders Junior 24 hours prior to the visit of high-flying Solent Devils, but stormed back from 1-0 down to claim a 3-1 triumph.

Stars had threatened several times before Joe Edwards finally equalised late in the second period, with Chris Cooke and Matt Lawday sealing victory in the third.

Birrell was thrilled to see his side stay the course as they climbed to seventh in NIHL Division One South.

He said: “The players deserved the win, they made themselves accountable for their good and bad points and made it work.

“We turned it around in the third period, when we have been known to tire.

“Our pressure on Solent was relentless at times.

“We go into our next game with a positive buzz.”

Captain Dax Hedges added: “It was a great game from the first whistle to the last.

“The boys were buzzing to get the monkey off our backs.”

Stars led 3-2 at the end of the first period against Raiders, with new import Jakub Klima scoring twice and Logan Prince once, only to concede three times in the final 20 minutes.

Klima’s signing until the end of the season was only confirmed last Friday, but the Czech national had been training at Oxpens prior to the move.

Meanwhile, Stars have formed an official youth development partnership with Basingstoke Buffalo.

The link is designed to ensure a stronger pathway for young players into senior hockey.

It means members of Stars’ junior club can gain valuable first-team experience in NIHL Division Two South before breaking into the senior team, and vice versa.

Ed Crotty and Daniel O’Brien have signed two-way agreements and are icing with Buffalo this season.

Meanwhile, Basingstoke players Will Birch, James Eldridge, Samuel Brooks, Cameron Buckle and Aiden McGurk have all iced for the Oxpens outfit this season.

Stars have also partnered with online sports broadcaster OXSO and TicketCo Media to live stream home fixtures.

It is being offered to ice hockey fans on a trial basis to establish whether it can be made sustainable to continue broadcasting.

Stars visit MK Thunder on Sunday (6.45pm).