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Chris Higgins set to start for Belfast Giants

Belfast Giants' Chris Higgins with Fife Flyers' Kyle Haines during the final home game of the 2017 season and home leg of the Elite Ice Hockey League Playoff quarter-final at the SSE Arena, Belfast on April 1 2017. Picture by William Cherry

CHRIS Higgins is likely to come straight into the Belfast Giants line-up for this weekend's triple header against Milton Keynes Lightning, Glasgow Clan and Dundee Stars at the SSE Arena, starting with tonight's clash with the English side.

The 32-year-old has been lured out of retirement by head coach Adam Keefe after two previous spells in Belfast, the first of which yielded an Elite League title in 2014.

Higgins averaged more than a point a game for the Giants, his 171 points in 162 games including 63 goals, some of them spectacular efforts, making him a fans' favourite.

The Boston University graduate comes in to Keefe's squad as a direct replacement for Canadian Francis Beauvillier, who quit the organisation and the sport last week.

"Chris was at the top of my list to get back here in Belfast. He has always been the type of player who creates offence all over the ice and makes his line-mates better," said Keefe.

"I believe he has unfinished business here in Belfast. Chris is fit and ready to go and I know the fans will be excited to see him in action once again."

Higgins is delighted to be returning to Belfast, having become the second player to be persuaded out of retirement by Keefe, following in the footsteps of his forward partner David Rutherford.

"Retirement was a very tough decision and I always said 'never say never'," insisted Higgins.

"I am excited to get back there to meet my new teammates, see some familiar faces, play for coach Keefe and hopefully bring more trophies back to Belfast."

The Giants go into the weekend games well placed after Sunday's 4-0 win over Manchester Storm left them a point clear of Cardiff Devils at the top of the standings.

They should start the series with a win over basement side Milton Keynes tonight before facing the Clan in a Challenge Cup semi-final dress rehearsal.

Glasgow are sixth in the table while Sunday's opponents Dundee are eighth but star forward Kyle Baun says the Giants can't take any team for granted in what has proved to be an extremely competitive league so far.

"You never want to jump ahead and overlook a team, we've lost to some of the teams lower in the standings, so it's important we take one game at a time and approach every team as if they're one of the big ones," he stressed.

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