Basingstoke Bison begin their bid to make it a double success in the EPL this season as they prepare to face Manchester Phoenix in the play-off quarter-finals.
Bison enjoyed a clean sweep of victories against Phoenix during the regular season on their way to winning the league title, but Head Coach Doug Sheppard says he isn’t taking anything for granted.
“We’ve bumped into Manchester in the last four years in the play-offs and we’ll be looking to reverse last year’s outcome,” said Sheppard.
“They’ve had an easier end to the season as they have been secure in eighth for a while and now they’ll be keen to take a big scalp in the play-offs.
“We have to be ready to play a complete 120 minutes and make sure we are still in the tie when we return from Deeside.
“We have been in good form at home, backed by our great support, and it would be nice finish off the season in Basingstoke with another play-off victory.”
Jonathan Weaver aims to use his 23 years of experience in senior ice hockey to help Telford Tigers reach the final weekend in Coventry.
The 39-year-old has had endured an injury-hit campaign, but he’s hoping to prove a point during this weekend’s quarter-final against MK Lightning.
He said: “I’ve always found that you need to enjoy the moment. You never know when this sort of thing comes around again. It’s a good laugh at the finals weekend in Coventry, so we all want to be part of it.
“Fans cans expect the Milton Keynes games to be much more intense, with more hits and they’ll probably be more defensive.
“There won’t be too many penalties, of course, as you don’t want to give any opportunities away.”
“All the guys want to go one better than last year. It is always great to win the league, but winning the play-offs is a nice way to go into the summer.
“It kind of left a bitter taste in our mouths. We’d had a good season and take nothing away from Peterborough, as they deserved it, but we let ourselves down.
“We didn’t play like we had done all season and there’s certainly a few guys who want to right that wrong.”
Tigers beat Lightning five times out of six during the regular season, but Weaver believes that record will count for nothing during the final-eight encounter.
“You have to forget what has gone before, even if you have got a good record against a team during the regular season,” he added.
“The slate is wiped clean and it’s a whole new set of teams over two games. Lightning are well coached, they’re fast and have some extremely good players.
“Everyone has to think just about these two games coming up. We need to knuckle down and do our best.”
Saturday – play-off quarter-final 1st leg
Manchester Phoenix v Basingstoke Bison
MK Lightning v Telford Tigers
Sheffield Steeldogs v Peterborough Phantoms
Swindon Wildcats v Guildford Flames
Sunday – play-off quarter-final 2nd leg
Basingstoke Bison v Manchester Phoenix
Guildford Flames v Swindon Wildcats
Peterborough Phantoms v Sheffield Steeldogs
Telford Tigers v MK Lightning
(Image permission: Tony Sargent)