BASINGSTOKE Bison return to the ice as they face local rivals Guildford Flames in the double-header weekend of action.
The first game is in Basingstoke and has a 6.30pm face-off, with the second game at the Spectrum on Sunday with a 6pm start.
This will give Herd faithful their first chance to see their new signings, forward Grant Rounding, defencemen Declan Balmer and Brendan Baird, along with new back-up goalie Dan Weller-Evans.
Otherwise, the double winners have a familiar line-up, with only Zach Sullivan, Carl Sullivan, Danny Ingoldsby and Connor Standing having left.
They still have a strong line-up and one which will be a match for any in the English Premier League, so there is no reason why they cannot again be celebrating at the end of the campaign with more silverware.
They open with what should be a good test as they face one of the sides tipped to be among the front-runners this season.
This is because they have made six additions to their squad during the summer.
They have raided the Elite League to sign former Coventry Blaze import Owen Fussey and British forward Matt Towe from the Braehead Clan, while former Bison Danny Meyers has returned south from Sheffield to bolster their blue line.
Elsewhere, they have made three signings from English Premier League rivals as forward Andrew McKinney has signed from league winners Manchester and former Bison Ollie Bronnimann moves down the road from Bracknell.
The final new face is young defenceman Sam Godfrey, who played for Swindon last season.
Herd forward Michael Wales will miss the weekend as he continues his rehab from his broken ankle sustained at the end of last season.
Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard said: “Guildford are much improved team and it will certainly be a competitive weekend, which we are all looking forward to.
“I will be trying out a number of line combinations, and with Michael Wales out, it gives me a chance to see where Grant Rounding slots best into the line-up.”
l Former Bison forward Greg Owen has become an assistant coach for the Great Britain Under-20s. The 33-year-old, who won 41 caps for Great Britain in a 10-year period, will work with head coach Pete Russell and fellow assistants Paul Heavey and Tom Watkins.
Owen said: “I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with British hockey’s next generation of players.
“There’s so much potential that can be further encouraged to achieve greater things than the generation before. I get extremely excited about being able to share the experiences and knowledge gained over my playing years.
Owen retired from the sport in the spring of 2013.
He added: “I’ve been through it myself, so hopefully I’ll be able to play a small part in helping each individual get the most out of themselves.”