The Bison celebrated their 25th anniversary season in the best possible fashion by doing the double – winning the EPL Cup and then the play-offs. Having waited 14 years to win one trophy, two came along in the space of a month.
Sheppard built on the core of the side he created the year before, but there were some notable departures in Greg Owen who retired and Stevie Lyle joined Swindon.
Imports Greg Chambers and Jaroslav Cesky also did not return, replaced by club’s leading scorer for the season Tomas Karpov, who arrived from Telford, while defenceman Miroslav Vantroba came in and quarterbacked the powerplay unit.
With the likes of Joe Greener, Joe Miller still at the club, Nicky Chinn returned and Aaron Connolly was added to the British firepower, while Andy Melachrino had a break-out season.
When Miller departed in mid-term to Telford, Ciaran Long returned to the Herd from Slough.
On defence former Herd men Joe Baird was back and joined a blue line unit with Kurt Reynolds, Carl Graham and Zach Sullivan, while Matt Selby added even more depth in this department as the season came to a close.
Netminder Dean Skinns also returned as starting goalie and played the whole campaign all 62 games in total.
He recorded five shut-outs in the season, which was a new club record and also became the first netminder to record back-to-back shut-outs.
In the EPL Cup, the Bison were third in the group, which meant they faced Guildford in the semi-final stage and produced probably their best ever performance against the Flames on home ice, as they won the first leg 8-3, thanks to a 4-1 final period.
The return leg a week later in Surrey, looked to be going to plan after the first two periods, with the game tied at 1-1.
However, Guildford really made the Bison sweat as they got to within one goal, until an empty net strike from Reynolds made sure of the overall victory 11-9 on aggregate.
The final saw the Bison face the Milton Keynes Lightning, who had knocked out group winners Manchester.
The opening leg in MK saw the Herd open the scoring from Melachrino, only for Tom Carlon to level it.
The visitors then went onto boss the rest of the game, as Vantroba, Melachrino and Long all scored to the second session for a 4-1 win.
The second leg in Basingstoke got off to a dream start, as Connolly scored after 20 seconds and then Karpov added a second for a five goal advantage overall.
However, MK then set about trying to spoil the party, as Leigh Jamieson and Adam Carr scored before the second buzzer and then Stanislav Lascek and Jamieson again after it.
So with eight minutes left in the tie the Bison led 6-5 overall. With the tension building with ever second, the home side held their nerve and Melachrino scored to make sure the Bison won their first trophy of the campaign. The Herd as in the previous season, spent some time in top spot in the league, but were eventually beaten to the title by the Manchester Phoenix.
This just left the play-offs to compete for and the Bison cruised past the Sheffield Steeldogs in the quarter-finals, shutting them out in Yorkshire and finishing off the job on home ice.
This set-up a semi-final against local rivals Guildford, who had finished third in the league at Coventry.
The sides swapped goals in the first period as Karpov’s strike was wiped out by Marcus Kristofferson.
The Herd then dominated the middle session as Chinn, Vantroba and Rand made it 4-1.
Guildford pulled a goal back from Branislav Kvetan with seven minutes left, but the Bison thanks to Greener added a fifth as they reached their first ever EPL play-off final.
There they would meet the Manchester Phoenix, with both teams looking for a second trophy of the season.
Robin Kovar broke the deadlock in a very tense final, only for Long to level things a minute later.
The turning point of the game, was when the Bison were awarded a penalty shot and despite all the pressure on his shoulders Rand scored it.
Just two minutes into the final session, James Archer tied the game again, but once again Baird, scorer in the Bison’s two Benson and Hedges Plate triumphs, found the net in a final again to make it 3-2.
The Herd’s Karpov added a fourth at 50:01, but Manchester replied again from Kovar.
Then with the clock ticking down and with their netminder pulled, the Bison sealed victory, thanks to an empty net goal from Connolly with two seconds left in the game.