MARCEL Balaz is the Basingstoke Bison’s first import signing for this forthcoming season, writes Graham Merry.

The 33-year-old Slovak centre will bring a wealth of experience to the Herd in what will be his first ever campaign in Britain.

Whilst playing in his home land he won five straight league championships and four times collected over 40 points in a season.

READ MORE: Josh Kelly returns to the Bison after two years

Having spent his entire career in Slovakia, he moved to France in the middle of season 2018/19.

He has been across the channel ever since and last year he played for Clermont and was second in their scoring charts.

Bison head coach Ashley Tait is delighted with the first of his two import signings and said: “He is new to this country, but is fully aware of his role on the team and the importance of it.

“I have spoken to a number of people and been told he is a valuable addition and good in the dressing room.”

Over the weekend, the Herd announced three more re-signings Adam Jones, Hallam Wilson and Tom Banner.

As well as being a player, Jones will also take on the role of assistant coach.

He is rated as one of the top defencemen in the league and is back for a fourth year.

Basingstoke Gazette: Adam Jones. Pic by Jo LoatAdam Jones. Pic by Jo Loat

Last season Jones led the blue line brigade scoring with 32 points hitting the net eight times.

The 26-year-old is a key member of the Herd’s powerplay unit as he has an excellent shot from the point.

Forward Wilson is back for a fifth straight season and has played for every team in Basingstoke from the under-10s upwards.

The 24-year-old was a member of the Bison’s league winning side of 2017/18 and has now made over 200 appearances for the club.

Basingstoke Gazette: Hallam Wilson. Pic by Jo LoatHallam Wilson. Pic by Jo Loat

He is a tenacious player who gives his all every shift.

Teenage defenceman Banner is back for his first full campaign with the Herd having joined mid way through last season from Slough.

The 19-year-old Basingstoke-born blue liner finished the season with regular ice time and picked up two assists in play-offs.

Basingstoke Gazette: Tom Banner (number 4 on the back). Pic by Jo LoatTom Banner (number 4 on the back). Pic by Jo Loat

Talking about his three returnees Tait said: “Adam is keen to get into coaching and I think it is great to have an input from a player. Everyone knows he is a key member of this team.

“Halz grew into his role in the second half of the last season and is an easy player to coach as he always listens.”

“Tom is a young player and not the finished product, but has the ability to turn into a very solid home grown defenceman.”

The Bison have also announced their pre-season schedule which will start with a double header against the Bees on the weekend of September 3/4 and then they face league new boys the Bristol Pitbulls on the next weekend. Both Bison home games are on Saturday night.

The opening league game will be on Saturday September 17, when Peterborough are the visitors.

The Herd have also released details of their season tickets for the forthcoming campaign.

A full fixture list and season ticket details can be found on the club’s website

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