The Oxford Avondale United (OAU) icers are back from their winter hiatus and return to the rink tomorrow (Thursday). They’re bringing their 3-5 overall record (1-1 in league play) against Bloomfield Hills (2-2). Face-off is at 7 p.m., at the Detroit Skating Club.
Prior to winter break the local team looked to string together back-to-back wins for the first time this season, first hosting the Walled Lake Western Warriors on Dec. 19.
With four skaters serving either one or two-game suspensions as a result of a melee against Utica United on Dec. 13, the undermanned OAU squad came out on the short end of the stick, falling 6-1. Oxford junior Brett Dinges drew the start in net, recording 32 saves on 38 shots.
Fellow junior Nate Poplars (Avondale) scored OAU’s lone goal, his fourth of the campaign. Senior Matt Schultz picked up the assist.
OAU thought they had added a second goal late in the second period when Poplars was able to slide the puck under the Walled Lake Western goaltender in traffic. One of the referees, however, lost sight of the puck and whistled the play dead, nullifying the goal.
The locals turned the tables the next night recording a win when they hit the road to Lindell Ice Arena in Royal Oak to battle the Bishop Foley Ventures in their final contest before Christmas break. With Bishop Foley dropping one in overtime to Utica United the night before, both teams were eager to end this portion of their schedule on a high note.
Exploding for four goals in the third period, OAU emerged victorious, 7-4. The win was the first road victory for the team this season.
The Ventures jumped out to an early lead and appeared as if they were going to take the 1-0 margin into the first intermission. A pair of OAU sophomores had other ideas as Freddie Fresard tied the game on a pass from Ben Hepp.
Bishop Foley retook control, 2-1, early in the second. Another sophomore, Issac Shellswell, evened things back up at two before the Ventures found the back of the net once more to take a 3-2 lead after two periods.
Unsatisfied with their boys’ level of play, head coach Derek Billis and his staff gave their team all the motivation they needed during the second intermission. Taking their coaches’ message to heart, OAU tied the game, 3-3, less than two minutes into the final period.
Six minutes later, Fresard added his second goal of the night to give OAU their first lead of the game, 4-3. Junior forward Brian Budde (Avondale) extended the gap to two goals, but Bishop Foley pulled back within one, 5-4, late in the third.
After Shellswell’s second of the contest, yet another sophomore – Coen Hao (Avondale) – tallied an empty-net goal to bring the score to the game’s final, 7-4
Junior forward Jake Billis, the son of head coach Derek Billis and one of the team’s three captains, will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a broken collarbone on Jan. 7. Billis initially sustained the injury in the loss to Utica United on Dec. 13.