Basingstoke Bison v Leeds Chiefs - Ashley Tait keen to rediscover that winning feeling

AS the only team yet to get the better of Leeds Chiefs this season, Basingstoke Bison will not be short of incentive on home ice tonight.

Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 7:49 am
Basingstoke Bison player-coach, Ashley Tait . Picture: Colin Lawson

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Leeds Chiefs hit crunch time in battle to gatecrash NIHL National playoffs

Installed in separate conferences as they are, tonight is the third meeting between the two teams this season, but the third in Hampshire when one of the two previous games there was classed as a home game for Leeds while work continued on getting their Elland Road rink ready.

The Chiefs won both games in December with the two teams set to conclude their four-game head-to-head series in Leeds next Sunday.

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Bison player-coach Ashley Tait, the former Sheffield Steelers, Coventry Blaze and GB winger, acknowledges he will come up against a stronger Chiefs roster than last time out, but is more concerned with snapping a three-game losing streak which has seen them lose ground in the race for third place in NIHL National.

“While they don’t have a big squad they do have a few more guys than last time,” said Tait. “They’ve picked up Patrik Valcak and Caly Robertson recently and Sammy has done a pretty decent job. They’re pretty well-organised and defend really well and they’ve got guys that can hurt you.”

With 10 games to go, Tait - whose team were edged out in overtime by second-placed Swindon Wildcats in a 15-goal thriller last Sunday - is hopeful his team can finish strong heading into the playoffs.

“It is so tight in the middle,” he added. “Even at Christmas time, if you went from third to seventh there were only seven or eight points separating teams - now that is even tighter.

Leeds Chiefs' players will be looking to celebrate for a third time in Basingstoke on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“Sheffield are on a really good run lately, have won five straight, while we’ve tailed off a bit at the wrong time really.

“But there are 10 games left and we did play really well last weekend, so we can take the positives from that and build on it for this weekend.

“But when you score seven goals on the road, you’d like to think that you’d also come away with two points. It wasn’t to be, so we’ll have to address that one.”

Tickets for all Chiefs home games at Elland Road can be purchased by heading to the club website HERE