FORMER Basingstoke Bison netminder Dan Green will return this weekend as he looks to help the Herd maintain their English Premier League title push.
The shot-stopper has been drafted in for the next two games as Basingstoke’s normal starting netminder, and the best goalie in the EPL, Stevie Lyle, is away on international duty for Great Britain in Riga, Latvia.
Green has some big skates to step into, but he is no stranger to the Herd, having spent three seasons with the club between 2005 and 2008, when the Bison were in the Elite League.
After that, the 30-year-old spent two years in Sheffield with the Steelers before moving to his current club, the Elite League leaders Nottingham Panthers.
Green trained with the Panthers, who have no game this weekend, on Tuesday and Wednesday, before he linked up with the Herd today ahead of their games at home to the Telford Tigers and away to the Sheffield Steeldogs.
Sheppard said: “I must thank Nottingham for letting us have Dan Green for the weekend and he is very excited about returning to Basingstoke.
“I have played with Dan both in Basingstoke and Sheffield and he is one of the most hard-working goalies I know.”
As well as having Lyle missing this weekend, the Herd will also be without leading scorer Greg Owen, who is also Latvia bound.
So Sheppard will have to reshuffle the nine remaining forwards for the weekend, which starts with a revenge mission against bottom side Telford on Saturday night (face-off 6.30pm).
The Shropshire outfit beat the Bison on home ice last Sunday, which completed a four-point weekend for them, following a win in Slough the previous night.
Sheppard, who is gearing up for a real battle on Saturday, said: “They are certainly not playing like a bottom-placed team and we have to make sure we are at our best.
“We have players missing from the line-up, so everyone will have to step up.”
On Sunday night (face-off 5.30pm), the Herd travel to Sheffield hoping to end a two-game losing streak against the Yorkshire side. They are the only team in the last 15 games to win in Basingstoke after victory on Boxing Day and they also beat the Herd in Ice Sheffield last month.
Sheppard said: “We have not played well against Sheffield this season and we need to change that. We have to come out and create our own energy and hopefully we can complete a four-point weekend.”
Before Bison fans focus on the weekend, they will following the exploits of Lyle and Owen, along with the rest of the national team, who signed off in prefect fashion for their trip to Latvia with a 6-3 win over an Import Select team on Tuesday.
GB start their quest for a place in the 2014 Winter Olympics today with a game against hosts Latvia (starting at 5.30pm GMT). Tomorrow, they face France (1.30pm), before the final game on Sunday against Kazakhstan (11am).
Only the winner of the group will qualifier and GB will be very much the underdogs in every game, but they are capable of causing an upset.
All the GB games will be broadcast live on ESPN and on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.