THE Basingstoke Bison will be going all out to maintain top spot in the English Premier League as they face the Slough Jets in a double-header weekend of action.
The Berkshire side fly into Basingstoke on Saturday night, with the return at the Hangar the following evening. Both games have a 6.30pm face-off.
The Bison currently lead the series over their local counterparts 3-1 and only a fortnight ago downed the Jets 7-2, with former Slough men Aaron Connolly and Ciaran Long among the Herd scorers.
The basement outfit were missing import hot-shots Kamil Tvrdek and Ales Padelek, along with feisty British forward Alan Lack on that evening.
Padelek and Lack were back in their line-up last weekend and helped the Jets to a penalty shoot-out victory over the third-placed Guildford Flames on home ice.
The Herd will hope to be at full strength for the visit of the Jets, with the return of young Brits Cameron Wynn and Danny Ingoldsby.
Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard is looking for his side to carry on the way they played against their title rivals the Manchester Phoenix last Saturday.
The Herd produced a clinical performance as they beat their title rivals 5-1, which now means they lead the series 3-2, with one game left between the big two, which is on Sunday, March 16, in Altrincham.
The Phoenix are two points behind the Bison with three games in hand, but have a tough weekend coming up, with three games in as many days, starting with an away game at Sheffield tomorrow night.
This is followed by a trip to Bracknell, where they have yet to win this season, and then a home game against Swindon.
Looking back at the win over the Phoenix, Sheppard said: “We played a really good game against Manchester. We have some big games coming up and I want us to keep this form going.
“We have to forget where Slough are in the standings, as they turned over the Guildford Flames last week.”
Sheppard added: “We will look to carry on the way we played against Manchester, and if we do this, I can see no reason we cannot take all four points.”
After their games with Slough, the Bison will then focus on the first leg of their EPL Cup final.
This is in Coventry on Wednesday night (face-off 7.45pm), when they face the Milton Keynes Lightning, conquerors of Manchester in the semi-finals.
On their last visit to the Skydome, the Herd cruised to a 6-2 victory against MK, but the Bison boss is ready for a much tougher contest this time around.
Sheppard said: “Milton Keynes had an off weekend, but I expect them to be back to their best for this game. We can’t win the final there, but we want to make sure we put ourselves in a good position.”
The second leg of the final will be held at the Basingstoke Arena on Wednesday, March 12 (face-off 7.45pm).