WILL Birch was on top of the world after his hat-trick secured back-to-back wins for Oxford City Stars.
The 20-year-old scored all three goals as Dean Birrell’s men triumphed 3-1 at Raiders Junior to leapfrog their opponents into seventh place in NIHL Division 1 South.
Birch is on a two-way deal from Basingstoke Buffalo as part of the clubs’ youth development affiliation and was understandably delighted with his treble in Romford.
The youngster said: “Scoring a hat trick was an unbelievable feeling and has definitely given me a confidence boost.
“It was a good team performance and we’re now focused on going again at home this weekend.
“The two-way is going really well for me. Oxford have been amazing week-in and week-out and I’ve felt comfortable and welcomed by the Stars from the very beginning.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season holds.”
Stars were playing for the first time since their 4-1 win over Solent Devils on January 9 and looked to pick up where they left off.
Jakub Klima went close twice early on, seeing his first shot deflected off target and then hitting the frame of the goal after he was played in by Joe Edwards.
But Stars were made to pay when they lost the puck in defence, Tjay Anderson surging forward to beat Matt Croyle and put Raiders 1-0 up.
The netminder was called into action to stop the hosts increasing their lead, only for the visitors to level in a flash through Birch.
Stars did not look back and struck the frame of the goal again before the buzzer brought an end to an absorbing first period.
It was all to play for, but Birrell’s side quickly took control.
Birch made it 2-1 early in the second period, Alex Staples with the assist, before Klima almost scored from another chance.
Stars did not have to wait long for their third goal and it came in clinical fashion, Dax Hedges finding Birch to complete his hat-trick on the counter-attack.
The away side kept their advantage intact as they reached the end of the second period and Klima saw yet another effort saved, after getting the chance to seal victory.
Raiders piled on the pressure in the closing stages and Croyle made another important save as Stars saw out a well-earned triumph.
The sides meet again at Oxpens on Sunday, with face-off at 6.15pm.