ALEX SAMPFORD signed off his Basingstoke Bison career with a hat-trick last Sunday, writes Graham Merry.

The British forward is leaving the Herd to join the RAF as an Air Ops Control Officer.

The 26-year-old started his career in Basingstoke at the age of eight playing for the under-10 Bison.

Sampford was the man of the match in his final game and was given a guard of honour by his teammates as he skated off the ice for the last time.

Head coach Ashley Tait said: “It was written in the stars really for Alex to go out that way. He was engaged from the start and unfortunate not to have scored earlier.

“His goals were very typical of most of the ones he’s scored over the years and after he got two I wasn’t going to keep him off the ice for his third.”

Sampford’s hat-trick helped the Herd to a 9-3 victory over the Raiders, which secured their place in this season’s play-offs.

In an excellent performance from the Bison they won the game thanks to five unanswered goals in the middle session.

Along with Sampford, Lubwele also scored three, while Hallam Wilson grabbed a brace and Zack Milton netted the other.

The previous night in Bristol, the Herd led 3-1 after 20 minutes, thanks to goals from Lubwele, Milton and Liam Morris.

The Pitbulls levelled the game in the second period, before a goalless final session sent the game into overtime.

Here the game was won for the Bison thanks to Lubwele’s second of the night.

On Friday night they lost 7-2 at Swindon as Marcel Balaz and Jack Peacock both scored.

This weekend, the Herd have a doubleheader with the Leeds Knights, the newly crowned league champions, with the home game on Saturday.