Victory was bittersweet for Basingstoke Bison in their final National Cup game of the season beating Telford Tigers 5-3 but finishing third overall, while a narrow 3-2 away win over Bracknell Bees on Sunday gave more cause for celebration.
The result of their excursion to Berkshire sees the Herd draw level with Peterborough Phantoms at the summit of the NIHL South 1 on 32 points, although manager Doug Sheppard’s side have a game in hand over their title rivals.
The Bees took an early lead on the ice when Carl Thompson (10 minutes) scored a powerplay goal midway through the first period, but Roman Malinik (12) was on hand to equal the score line with a shorthanded strike just 90 seconds later.
Grant Rounding (21) opened the scoring in the second period before Malinik netted his second (32) and the eventual match winner.
Bison survived a late scare from Callum Best with less than two minutes to go as Alex Mettam was hauled from the net for the last 53 seconds to hold onto their 3-2 lead and claim both points.
Captain Aaron Connolly said: “Telford are the top team in the division and with a big league fixture on Sunday it was important that we put in a good performance and went into the Bracknell game with a win.
“Credit to Bracknell as they brought it to us all night in what was a very close game, Sunday night was Roman’s turn to come up trumps with two big goals.
“Brackell are a solid team struggling for results but Sunday was not their night and we stuck together and kept to the game plan coming out 3-2 winners on the night.
“It was a huge weekend for us and a four point weekend was exactly what we need coming into a week off.”
Head coach Sheppard heaped praise on his captain for his performances in the league recently.
He said: “I just want to take a moment to congratulate Aaron on being selected as NIHL1 South Player of the Month for December.
“It’s thoroughly deserved as he’s been a true leader on and off the ice all season it’s nice to see that recognised.”
Next up for the Herd is a double-weekender with home and away games against Swindon Wildcats beginning Saturday January 20.