Oxford City Stars have formed an official youth development partnership with Basingstoke Buffalo.
The affiliation between the two clubs is designed to help generate a stronger development pathway for young players breaking through into senior hockey.
It will generate a full pathway from junior clubs into senior set-ups for young players to the Stars in NIHL Division One South and the Buffalo in NIHL Division Two South West.
Stars’ Head Coach Dean Birrell, said the link-up means players in the Stars’ junior club can gain first team experience in NIHL Division Two South with the Buffalo, before breaking into the Stars’ senior team. It also means young Buffalo players can also gain experience at Oxford. The partnership has been trialled this season - and following its successful start has been confirmed as an on-going affiliation.
Oxford City Stars players Ed Crotty and Daniel O’Brien have signed two-way agreements and are icing with Buffalo this season.
Buffalo players have been icing for the Stars and will continue to do so where possible this season.
Will Birch, James Eldridge, Samuel Brooks, Cameron Buckle and Aiden McGurk of Buffalo have iced for the Stars this season.
Birrell said: “This is an important development for the Stars as part of our strategy to develop young homegrown talent into the first team. We are pleased to be linking up with the Buffalo and Ryan Cathcart and excited by the opportunities it creates to develop players.
“This partnership will help give players more experience and strengthen their development pathway. It provides young players with more opportunities to get on the ice, play, train and develop at different levels and ensures they will be challenged. We already both clubs and the players are seeing the benefit of the partnership.
“The partnership enables us to provide a stronger pathway to young players who might not be ready for regular NIHL One hockey. Both the Stars and Buffalo share the same philosophy and desire to provide young players with opportunities and we hope this can be a long-term link up.”