BASINGSTOKE Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard has wasted no time in finding a replacement for British forward Jacob Corson-Heron, snapping up highly-rated teenager James Smith.
A scan late last week revealed Corson-Heron will miss the rest of the campaign as he needs an operation on his knee.
Sheppard said: “It is a real shame for Jacob that he is ruled out, and we wish him a full recovery ready for next season.”
As well Corson-Heron, fellow forwards Joe Miller and Joe Greener are also sidelined, but they are expected back early next month.
Even with a depleted squad last weekend, the Herd still managed to book their place in the English Premier League Cup semi-final.
However, Sheppard is fully aware that being short benched for too long would hurt his team so he has snapped up teenage Scottish forward Smith.
Last season, the 18-year-old played for his home town teams the Dundee Stars in the Elite League and Dundee Comets in the Scottish National League.
This season Smith has joined the Stars’ rivals Fife Flyers but he has also continued to play for the Comets, scoring five times in three games.
Sheppard, is excited about his latest signing and said: “I spoke to Danny Stewart, assistant coach at Fife, and he rates him very highly.
“He will bring energy, a bit of grit and is very reliable defensively. He is hungry for the chance to play in the EPL.”
Smith is just as eager to join up with the Herd.
Talking from his Dundee home, the new Bison forward said: “I can’t wait to play in Basingstoke as this is an opportunity to improve myself as a player.
“I like to score, hit and if need be drop the gloves. I am looking forward to helping the team remain in top spot.”
Smith will make his debut for the Bison against local rivals Bracknell Bees on Saturday night (face-off 6.30pm).
The Herd will be looking to repeat last Saturday’s success over their Berkshire rivals and extend their winning home run to seven games.
The Bees are sure to be buzzing, but in recent years, they have not won in Hampshire and Sheppard wants to maintain that record.
The Bison boss said: “We are doing well on home ice, which I think is down to the atmosphere our fans create in our building as they really get behind the team, and I am sure they will again this Saturday.
“We know Bracknell will be dangerous and we will have to keep their big line of Lukas Smital, Martin Masa and Rob Lamey quiet.”
On Sunday night (face-off 5.30pm), the stakes are raised even higher as the Bison travel for a top-of-the-table clash with Manchester Phoenix.
This is the first of two games between the EPL’s top dogs in the space of seven days, with the return in Basingstoke a week on Saturday.
The Herd currently lead the series with the Phoenix 2-0 and they are the only side to win in Manchester this season.
Looking ahead to the crunch game, Sheppard said: “They are a hard working team who will keep coming at you, but we have already had success there this season and will hope to do it again.”