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Belfast Giants rocked as Francis Beauvillier quits team

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 29th December 2017 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye..Belfast Giants fans during Friday nights Elite League game against the Edinburgh Capitals at the SSE Arena, Belfast..
John Flack

BELFAST Giants have been rocked by a bolt from the blue with news that forward Francis Beauvillier has quit the team and the sport to pursue an alternative career.

The Quebec native, who was one of head coach Adam Keefe's new-season signings, had played in 20 of the club's 28 Elite League games to date, only missing out when injured.

He also featured in seven Challenge Cup games and the Continental Cup, scoring nine goals in total and posting six assists.

The 25-year-old arrived in Belfast after a successful college hockey career after which he signed for AHL team Manitoba Moose before moving to Belfas.

"We were shocked when Francis let us know that he wanted to leave. He asked to speak with (general manager) Steve Thornton and myself and told us he did not want to play hockey any longer," said Keefe.

"I believe Francis could have success in this league and we are disappointed to be losing him.

"We are always looking for ways to improve the team and will be continuing our recruitment and looking for a replacement for the team in the next few days."

Meanwhile, Keefe is expecting a tough weekend as the Giants begin a run of seven consecutive home games with a double header against Manchester Storm.

The Giants won two closely contested meetings between the teams this season following up a 4-3 overtime victory and a 6-4 success last Sunday which left Keefe's men four points clear at the top of the standings.

In Sunday's game, Belfast only sealed the win in the last minute when Darcy Murphy increased his tally to four on the night and 18 for the season

"Obviously it's not the way we would have liked to close out the game, we would have liked it to have been a little bit easier, but this is a tough league and their's is a tough building to play in," said Keefe.

"I'm expecting another tough test this weekend and, at home, we've got to find a way to get points on the board, but I think our fans should be ready to cheer us on on our home ice.

"On our road trip we've been successful, so we have to continue that coming back home."

The Giants will be without forward Hunter Bishop for tonight's game after he received a one-match ban for an elbowing offence in Sunday's clash with Manchester.

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