NEW Basingstoke Bison captain George Norcliffe scored a late winner as the Herd won their opening pre-season game 5-4 over the visiting Bees.

The home side gave debuts to new imports Gael-Mukeba Lubwele and Marcel Balaz, as well as Brits Marcus Mitchell, Edgars Landsbergs and Adrian Dusznik, while junior Bison prospects signed just before the weekend Roman Cathcart and Ollie Hemmings-Maher were also included in the line-up.

The Herd opened the scoring at 5:22 thanks to man of the match Lubwele with super shot.

The same player then doubled the advantage just 36 seconds into the second session with another excellent strike.

Four minutes later, Alan Lack took an exception to a hit on Dominik Gabaj and was dismissed for fighting.

Soon after, the visitors picked up another penalty and the Bison made full use of the two man advantage as Aidan Doughty netted on the powerplay.

The Herd then added a fourth thanks to a great blue line strike from Jay King, before Dan Rose made it 4-1 by the second buzzer.

After the interval, the Bees came buzzing back as man of the match Juha Lindgren and Gabaj scored 79 seconds apart, before Brendan Walkom slotted in the game-tying goal at 56:50.

However, the Herd were not to be denied the victory as Norcliffe scored the winner in the final two minutes.

The following night in Slough, the Bees gained quick revenge with a 2-1 overtime win, as Gabaj scored both their goals.

His first came at 7:28, but this was cancelled out by Bison's Ryan Sutton two minutes later.

There were no more goals until the overtime winner, but the Herd's Liam Morris and Bees' Will Stead were both dismissed with match penalties for checking to the head in the final period.

Netminders Adam Goss and Bison’s Alex Mettam won the man of the match awards.

Basingstoke Gazette: New Bison signings Ollie Hemmings-Maher and Roman CathcartNew Bison signings Ollie Hemmings-Maher and Roman Cathcart (Image: Jo Loat)

Bison head coach Ashley Tait was furious with the dismissal of Morris and said: “He just mistimed his hit and caught him high. The league have adopted these ridiculous match penalty rules which are not fit for purpose in the real world.”

Looking back on the Bees games, Tait added: “There were more positives than negatives across the weekend.”

The Bison complete their pre-season programme this weekend with a double header against league newcomers the Bristol Pitbulls. The home game is on Saturday (6.30pm) with the away match in Bristol on Sunday (5.30pm).