Basingstoke Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard's weekly column

Basingstoke Gazette: Basingstoke Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard. Buy this photo Basingstoke Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard.

LAST week I talked about going into 2014 with confidence and self-belief.

Wins against our two closest rivals reinforce those feelings and leave us clear at the top of the league.

We took a lot of fans to Guildford on New Year’s Day for our final league game against them.

We didn’t need 65 minutes this time, but did leave it to the final 20 seconds of the game for Tomas Karpov to score the deciding goal, His line, with Ciaran Long and Andy Melachrino, was a constant threat. We ended that series against last year’s league champions with a 5-1 advantage.

It was important to us to carry that form into our game against Manchester at home on Saturday.

We wanted to continue our good home record and Manchester had handed us our biggest defeat of the season when we visited them in November.

The fans, as always, roared us on, this time to a convincing 5-2 win.

It was an incident towards the end which will probably be most remembered.

One of the most contentious rules in the game is the one that awards a five plus match penalty if an accidental high stick draws blood.

If the player returns to the ice, the match penalty can be reduced to a game.

This season we have ensured that an injured Bison player returned to the ice and Andre Payette has done the same for us.

When it is the top two teams competing, we especially appreciate Tony Hand’s sportsmanship in bringing Liam Chong back on the ice so that our defenceman did not miss the next match.

We have a big weekend ahead of us. Having lost away to the new-look Telford side on Sunday, we look forward to meeting them at home on Saturday, before our return trip to Manchester.

All the best,

Doug

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