Tonight’s opponents are the Basingstoke Bison and their head coach Ashley Tait made the decision over the summer to hang up his skates and step behind the bench full time.
In goal the Bison have retained their netminding tandem, veteran Alex Mettam is back for his 16th season in senior hockey and 4th consecutive with the Bison. Mettam has been a solid and dependable presence in the crease for many years and Basingstoke will be expecting much the same from him this season. Mettam will be challenged for the starting berth this year by impressive young talent Jordan Lawday. Lawday is very highly thought of and should be getting better and better with each year that passes so the Bison should have two good goalies this year.
Basingstoke are another team in the NIHL National that have decided to go with two import forwards and both of the Bison’s forwards are new players to the league and country. First up is the veteran power forward Marcel Balaz, the Slovakian born brings with him a wealth of top-level experience and a proven scoring record that should transfer well to the NIHL National. The second signing is Gael-Mukeba Lubwele, the 26 year-old Canadian joins the Bison after completing 3 years of study at Nipissing University who play in the USports system in Canada and is the same team that our own Colby Tower played on for the last 3 years as well.
On the blueline the key returnee is Adam Jones, getting him to re-sign for another season was essential for the Bison as he leads the defence and has done for the past few seasons. Joining him are the returning Brendan Baird, Jay King and Tom Banner. There are two new faces; Josh Kelly and Marcus Mitchell.
Up front there hasn’t been much change as the majority of the British forwards who laced them up for the Bison last season are back. George Norcliffe, Zack Milton, Liam Morris and Aidan Doughty, to name but a few, all return and with the imports signed they should complement and combine well to lead the Bison to the play-offs once more this season.