Basingstoke Bison gear up to face the Swindon Wildcats and Sheffield Steeldogs

Basingstoke Gazette: Carl Graham hopes to be back this weekend Carl Graham hopes to be back this weekend

THE Basingstoke Bison will be hoping to have Canadian forward Joe Rand and British defenceman Carl Graham back in their line-up when they face the Swindon Wildcats and the Sheffield Steeldogs next weekend.

The Herd make the trip to the Link Centre to face Swindon on Saturday evening (face-off 5.45pm), before entertaining the Steeldogs on home ice the following night (face-off 5.30pm).

Both players missed last weekend’s double header against the Bracknell Bees due to injury and will want to return to keep the Herd’s push for the title on track.

The Bison’s first opponents, the Wildcats, were not in action last weekend, so this is their first game since they suffered a 4-3 loss to the Herd on December 14, a match in which Joe Miller scored a hat-trick for the victors.

However, Swindon only had 12 skaters that night and this weekend they will have all their players back from international duty.

The Wiltshire side have also signed experienced British forward Lee Richardson. He makes a return to the team having signed from Slough just before Christmas.

Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard said: “They were missing a few bodies last time so I am expecting a much tougher game.

“The defeat against us will still be fresh in their minds, being as it was their last game, so I am sure they will be looking to avenge that.”

The following night, the Bison return to home ice and face a Sheffield side who have won on their last two visits to Hampshire.

The Yorkshire side also beat the Herd in Ice Sheffield earlier in the season. The game will see the first return to Basingstoke of former fans’ favourite Greg Chambers, who signed for the Steeldogs from the Bison in the summer.

They are a dangerous and physical team who can always upset the form book and will be looking to continue this against the Herd.

Bison boss Sheppard said: “We have played Sheffield already once this season and lost in a shoot-out.

“We have to be aware of Chubbs (Greg Chambers) and take away his time on the puck, otherwise he is going to hurt us.

“The league table counts for nothing in this league. It is who is the best team on the night and we have to make sure that is us.”

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