OXFORD City Stars put up a spirited show before going down 6-3 to Division 1 side Bracknell Hornets in the NIHL Cup at Oxford Ice Rink.
The game started 15 minutes late due to a lighting issue.
But once it got under way, the pace was frenetic, with Stars having early chances when Darren Elliott shot narrowly wide and James Clarke was denied by netminder Adam Marashi.
Jacob Smith took a penalty for slashing, and Bracknell forced Ricky Young to make several saves.
However, it was Oxford who opened the scoring, when a defensive error allowed Joe Edwards to break away and slip the puck past Marashi.
With five minutes left in the first period, Andy Cox received a two-minute penalty for hooking after bringing down Hornets import Peter Jasic, who would have been free on goal.
Stars killed off the penalty well, but conceded another shortly after and the pressure finally paid off when Daniel Hughes lifted the puck past Ricky Young.
Bracknell edged ahead through Hughes, and the second period was littered with penalties.
But Hornets struck twice in a minute late on through Tony Barclay and Hughes, who completed his hat-trick.
Dax Hedges, in his first game since the opening day win over Swindon, lifted the puck home to reduce the deficit to 4-2 in the third period.
And 68 seconds later, he scored again with a brilliant piece of skill after a pass from Josh Oliver.
Hornets hit back with a shot from the top of the face-off circle, and a goal shortly after from Brendan Baird sealed Stars’ fate.