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Bison face top of the table clashes
THE Basingstoke Bison have just one burning ambition this weekend – to return to the summit of the English Premier League.
The Herd face their biggest weekend of the season so far with a home top-of-the-table encounter against new leaders Manchester Phoenix, followed by a trip to reigning champions Guildford Flames.
The Bison were knocked off the top last weekend by Manchester, who visit the Basingstoke Arena for a super-charged clash on Saturday (face-off 6.30pm).
The Phoenix are currently in red hot form with six straight wins and are led by the awesome scoring line of top British forward Tony Hand and imports Joachim Flaten and Michal Psurny.
Last weekend, Manchester beat Guildford back-to-back so they will be full of confidence as they head south.
However, when the Bison and the Phoenix locked horns on the opening weekend of the season in Manchester, the Bison won 2-1. Greg Owen and Joe Greener both scored for the Herd, while netminder Stevie Lyle had a stunning game in goal.
The same result would do very nicely on Saturday and a win would send the Herd back to the top of the EPL as the teams are only separated by a point.
The Bison have started the campaign in good form at home – winning four out of their five games.
Their latest success came over the Telford Tigers last Saturday, their only outing of the weekend. The Herd secured a thrilling victory as they tied the game with four minutes to go and then grabbed the winner 47 seconds from time.
Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard said: “It was great that we found a way to win, and now everyone in the dressing room is buzzing about our next games.
“This is our biggest weekend of the season so far, and we want to win and return to the top of the league.”
Sheppard added: “We have seen Manchester before this season and they are the best team we have played so far. They are certainly the in-form team.
“We have to make sure we work hard from the first face-off and create our own bounces. If we do that, I am sure we will do well.”
On Sunday, the Bison travel to the Spectrum to face a Guildford side that slid down the table from third to seventh after their double defeat to Manchester.
The big spenders of the EPL have now lost five on the trot and have a tricky trip to Peterborough on Saturday before they entertain the Herd on home ice the following night (face-off 6pm).
Sheppard said: “Guildford are in a bit of a drought at the moment and will be a dangerous animal. After the Manchester game, we will then focus and talk about the Guildford game. It is a tough weekend, but one we would like to take four points from.”