IT IS crunch time for the Basingstoke Bison as they look to keep alive their hopes of winning the treble.

The Herd will lock horns with title rivals the Manchester Phoenix on Saturday night in the first of two meetings that will go a long way to deciding the English Premier League champions.

Then, on Wednesday, March 5, the Herd will head to Coventry to face Milton Keynes Lightning in the first leg of the EPL Cup final.

The second leg will take place a week later in Basingstoke – and when the two-leg contest is over, the Herd will hope they have ended 14 years of hurt by winning a trophy.

Their third silverware target is to win the end-of-season play-offs.

Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard said: “We have some big games coming up now. The team is playing well at the moment, and we will give it our best shot.”

The Bison will look to maintain home rule when title rivals the Manchester Phoenix come to town on Saturday (face-off 6.30pm).

Basingstoke lead the EPL by two points following Wednesday night's penalty-shots win over the Sheffield Steeldogs - but the second-placed Phoenix have four games in hand.

So far this season, every game between these sides has gone the way of the team with home advantage, which currently leaves the series locked at 2-2.

The Manchester fixture is the Herd's only game of the weekend and they are very much in title contention - but the Phoenix have four games in hand.

The Bison hope to have young Brits Cameron Wynn, Stuart Mogg and Danny Ingoldsby back in their line-up, after all three missed last Sunday’s home victory over Slough.

Manchester will be boosted by the return of import Robin Kovar as he has now served a two match suspension.

Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard said: “It is our biggest game of the season so far and our only one of the weekend.

“We will have to stop their powerful forwards and stay out of the box, as they have a very good powerplay unit.”

Visit for live text coverage from Saturday's big game at the Basingstoke Arena.