Oxford City Stars have signed three players from Bristol Honda Pitbulls, as part of the clubs’ player development partnership.
Forward Aaron Moody, 20, D-Men Joe Llewellyn, 20 and Tom Stephens, 18, have signed for the Stars on two-way agreements.
The trio all played for the Pitbulls in NIHL Division One South last season and are the first players to sign for the Stars as part of the two-way partnership the two clubs announced earlier in the summer. They will train with both clubs, as part of their development, and playing for the Stars.
Oxford City Stars Head of Hockey Operations, Shane Moore, said: “With Tom and Joe, we have a pair that have played together over the last few years and a ready-made defensive pairing that should slot straight into the line-up. They have a good mix of skills and complement each other well.
“Aaron is a smart two way forward, that will add great depth to us and give us more options offensively. I’m excited bringing these guys in and we’re looking forward to working with them this season and watching them develop with us.”
Llewellyn represented England U23 last season and played 30 times for the Pitbulls in NIHL Division One South.
He said: “I’m excited to come to Oxford. Shane and Simon are putting together a good bunch of guys that will be competitive and help further my development. I’m looking forward to making the most out of the time I spend here.”
Moody played 26 matches for the Pitbulls last season and scored six goals. He spent the 2020/21 season in the US, where he played for New York Aviators and New Jersey Hitmen.
He said: “After speaking to Shane and Simon it was a no brainier for me to agree to sign for Oxford. The vision and plans the club have for the future are exciting and I am pleased to be a part of that.
“After speaking to a couple of players from last seasons’ squad, they were full of praise to the club. The games for Bristol last season against Oxford were all good games and the crowd in Oxford were loud, so I am looking forward to playing in front of them. I can’t wait to get started.”
Stephens, who played 27 matches for the Pitbulls last season, is also looking forward to the move.
He said: "With my time at Okanagan Hockey Academy in Swindon coming to an end and Pitbulls moving to National League the management in Bristol spoke to me about where I would be living next year and how they could help me get the right club to keep developing.
“My plans are to stay in the South West so the relationship with Oxford is a great fit and as soon as I spoke to Shane and Simon, I was immediately impressed by how professional their organisation is.
“When Simon explained to me the plans, the type of modern hockey he wants us to play and the type of guys they are signing it was an easy decision to sign for the Stars for the 22/23 season. Oxford is a club with a great future and I am really looking forward to getting on the ice, meeting the fans and continuing to develop as player."
Shane added: “Last season we were really impressed with several players in Bristol. Outside of just their skillsets, it was their professionalism, tenacity, and sheer want to improve and win that was very attractive.
“When we set up the two-way system with Bristol earlier this summer, we always planned to bring a few guys over to Oxpens.
“These three guys all bring the winning mindset over to us and are still young and hungry to improve and get to the next level. This season will see the 2-way guys training in Bristol, and training and playing with us. This will only benefit both the players and clubs in the long term.”
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Article by Kate Chipchase