THE Basingstoke Bison have made a switch in the import forward line-up for the coming season with the signing of Slovakian Viktor Kubenko.

The 6ft 3in Slovak from Zvolen is new to Britain and last season played in Poland for Naprzod Janow, where he collected 36 points from 44 games split evenly between goals and assists.

That was his second season in the Polish League having hit the net 22 times in a points total of 42 for Podhale Nowy Targ the year before.

Prior to that he played in the top Slovakian League and also had a spell in Sweden with Nybro and in North America with the New Orleans Brass in the tough East Coast Hockey League.

Talking about another player who is sure to beef up the Bison forward line, coach Steve Moria said: “He is a good skater and has good hands for a big player.

“He can play in both ends of the rink and has a great shot.”

He added: “It is funny because a few years ago I went to Slovakia on a scouting trip and saw him play, but wasn’t in a position to sign him.

“So I am pleased to have got him this time.”

His arrival left Moria to make his toughest decision of the summer and not offer his good friend Joe Ciccarello the third import forward slot.

The Canadian last season collected 50 points and scored 22 times despite missing a big chuck of the season due to injury.”

Moria said: “It was a tough and difficult decision to make as he is one of the best linemates I have ever played with, but I felt this was the right decision for the team.”

This week The Gazette caught up with last week’s Bison re-signing, top British goal scorer Ollie Bronnimann, and, talking from his home in Kent, he said: “I am pleased to be coming back and I really enjoyed my first year in Basingstoke.

“Both on and off the ice we had a great team and, if it was not for our mid-season injury crisis, I am sure we would have finished a lot higher.”

He added: “It was great playing with Lauko and Chinny (Nicky Chinn) and we really got off to a flying start.

“We have a good core of players back, with a few additions, and can’t see why we cannot improve on what we did last year.”

The Bison fans have only to wait until Wednesday, September 8, to see their new team in action for the first time as they face the visiting Bracknell Bees on home ice in a challenge match.

Three days later the Herd will entertain Guildford, before travelling to the Spectrum on the Sunday. The return at the Hive against Bracknell will be on Thursday, September 16.