Blueliner Guide to the Basingstoke Bison

 

League: EPL

Founded: 1988

Colours: Black, Red, White, Green

Home Ice: Planet Ice Basingstoke

The Basingstoke Bison are one of the real survivors of British ice hockey. They are a team that has played at all levels of the sport in the UK but without a much success. Yet the Basingstoke Bison has still produced young players and still been competitive.

The Basingstoke ice hockey club can trace its begins to the 1988 when the Basingstoke Beavers entertained the Bournemouth Sharks in a preseason game. That year the Beavers entered the league and quickly made a name for themselves at the lower end of the British ice league thanks to high scoring games. One such game came in March 1989 when Don Yewchin scored 12 goals against Peterborough.

The following year the Beavers gained promotion for the first time thanks to a 5 -3 victory over the arch rival Bracknell Bees. After a steady performance in the first season they went on to finish third in their second season and were league winners in their third to gain promotion to the Premier League and the top flight for the first time.

The Beavers established themselves as a side in the Premier League and in their second season the Beavers top the pile for a few weeks.

For the 1995 season the Beavers became the Bison and the beginning of the clubs modern history began. The Bison missed the Championship playoffs at Wembley and then entered the then newly formed Superleague that summer.

The relaxation of spending caps and import rules in the Superleague did not benefit the Bison and it was a difficult existence for the club. In the first season the Bison went winless in their first seven and went on to finish bottom of the league. The second season in the Superleague was only just better as the Bison finished seventh in the eight-team league.

That was to be the Bison’s last appearance in the Superleague as over the summer the team was pulled citing high losses and an uncompetitive team as the main reasons. The team moved into the British National League and saw a marked improvement in the team’s fortunes narrowly missing out on the title and reaching the playoff semi finals.

The 1999 season was also a successful one as the Bison won the Benson and Hedges Plate a trophy they would regain the following season.

After a successful spell in the BNL the Basingstoke Bison were a founder member of the Elite League as rink owners Planet Ice announced they would be playing in the new league.

The return to the top flight was again not the most successful as the Bison finished the first season in seventh narrowly missing the playoffs. The 2005 season too was not the most successful as the Bison lost to the second tier BNL sides Bracknell and Guildford in the crossover league as the team missed the playoffs again finishing seventh.

Things did not get better for the 2006 season as again the Bison finished seventh and set a club record 12 straight defeats. However there was a highlight, as player coach Mark Bernard became the first EIHL netminder to score a goal.

There was a vast in improvement in 2007 as the Bison produced a 50% point hall and made the playoffs although the team finished seventh once again. That improvement looked to continue into 2008 but money woes soon came onto the agenda. After losing Stevie Lyle and Pete Campbell to Belfast the time went onto the Knockout Cup final winning the first leg in Coventry before going down in the second leg. In the league though the Bison could not manage to make the playoffs finishing ninth.

After a summer of tough financial problems the Bison made it on to the ice but it was a difficult season and the Bison’s last in the top flight. As after the season ended they joined Manchester in moving down to the English Premier League.

Life in the EPL has not been too easy however for the Bison as they have struggled to make an impact however the Bison did make the EPL Cup final in 2010.

The 2011 – 12 season has not been the most memorable for the Bison as they got off to a bad start. But a recent good run has seen them move into a comfortable mid table position with a view to carry on into the playoffs.

Honours

  • English Div 1 Promotion Play-offs – 1989
  • Southern Cup – 1992
  • Heineken Division One – 1993
  • Heineken Div 1 Promomtion Play-offs – 1993
  • B & H Plate – 2000, 2001

Websites

www.bstokebison.co.uk

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