New boy Smith helps Bison stay top

BASINGSTOKE, UK – New Bison forward James Smith picking up a point on his debut as the Herd won their derby game with Bracknell 5-2.
The Scotsman a native of Dundee travelled south to join Basingstoke as a replacement for Jacob Corson-Heron who is now out for the season due to a knee injury.
The 18-year-old had most recently played a few games in the Elite League for the Fife Flyers and also iced for the Dundee Comets in the Scottish National League where he had hit the net five times in three starts.
He was a welcome addition to the line-up with Joe Miller and Joe Greener also sidelined the Herd were short staffed which had seen another Scotsman Tony Redmond forced to return to forward duties.
The victory over the Bees was their 11th straight on home ice over their oldest rivals as the pair first locked horns way back in 1988.
Smith picked up his helper on the Bison’s final goal which secured a hat-trick for Greg Chambers, his first of the season for the Canadian who tops the Herd’s scoring charts.
Earlier in the game former Bees forward Jaroslav Cesky scored a superb shorthanded marker as part of a brace with the Herd’s second and third goals.
The Bees replies came from Martin Masa and Shaun Thompson.
“We did not play our best against Bracknell, but I am pleased with the result and James (Smith) looked good on his debut,” said Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard.
The following night the Bison travelled north to face the Manchester Phoenix in a top-of-the-table clash which saw the visitors heavily out shot as Stevie Lyle faced 60 shots making 57 saves as the Herd won 4-3.
Greg Owen scored both the goals of the first period – the second on a double powerplay.
Cesky then netted his third goal of the weekend, before the Phoenix started their comeback scoring either side of the period break from Manchester’s Joachim Flaten and Michal Psurny to make it 3-2.
However, just 15 seconds later the Bison restored their two goal lead from their man-of-the-match Joe Rand.
A goal from James Archer narrowed the lead again and set up a tense finish with Psurny thinking he had scored an equaliser but the whistle had blown before the puck hit the net.
The victory moved the Bison four points clear at the top the EPL.
“Manchester are a good team and Stevie (Lyle) was our best player and we capitalized on our chances,” said Sheppard.
The Phoenix have a chance to close the gap straight away as the sides meet again this Saturday in Basingstoke with the Bison looking to extend their home winning streak to eight games.
The following night, the Herd have a tricky away trip to Peterborough.
Contact the author Graham.Merry@Prohockeynews.com

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