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.

I ENDED my diary last week with two questions: Can we make it to the EPL Cup final, and can we continue to pressure Manchester for the league title?

We’ve just played six games in 11 days. We’re in the cup final and level on points with Manchester.

They have a backlog of games and have to cope with fixture congestion as we enter the final stretch of the league season. So it’s looking good.

Many thanks to all of you who travelled to Guildford to see us battle against the cup holders and secure our place in the final.

We remember the disappointment of going out at this stage last season. What a night we all have to look forward to!

Because of our play-off system, every team has something to play for in the league, so games are going to be close and hard-fought, as you saw when we hosted Milton Keynes and Swindon.

Add two difficult away games against Sheffield and Bracknell – and we have to be pleased with earning four points over the two weekends.

We hope Andy Melachrino will be fit to return this weekend. Our young players have covered in his absence very effectively and continue to be essential to our success.

One young spectator had an unfortunate accident in the Bracknell rink on Sunday evening. As much as we are passionate about our sport, it did put matters in perspective for us.

We wish him well as he recovers and send our best wishes to him and his family.

As if there wasn’t enough excitement in Basingstoke, we have the Winter Olympics for the next two weeks.

I’m sure the fans will be watching as much ice hockey as they can. If you’re new to the sport, have a look and then come and see it live.

See you Sunday.

All the best,

Doug

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