8 October 2016 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. Challenge Cup: Stena Line Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan at the SSE Arena Belfast. Chris Higgins makes it 5 for the Belfast Giants during Saturday nights Challenge Cup game at the SSE Arena, Belfast.

The Stena Line Belfast Giants can announce that star forward Chris Higgins has retired from hockey ahead of the 2017/18 season. Following three successful seasons in Belfast and an eight year professional career – Higgins has decided to hang up his skates.

Higgins retires as one of the most memorable to ever pull on the teal Giants jersey and will be missed by the organisation both on and off the ice.

Higgins joined the Giants back in 2013 and his impact was instant – lighting up The SSE Arena with his electrifying performances that will live long in the memory of the fans in Belfast. The 31 year old from Massachusetts, USA earned himself the nickname as the Belfast Datsyuk for his high skilled play that made him famous with the Giants fanbase.

Higgins helped the Giants to the Elite League title in 2013/14 as the Belfast side clinched the trophy with, a record breaking, ten games still to play.

In 156 games played for the Giants, Higgins posted 60 goals and 104 assists, good for 164 points and 18th place in the organisation’s overall standings.

Head Coach Adam Keefe on the retirement of Chris Higgins:

“Chris Higgins was at the top of my list to get back here in Belfast this season. He’s the type of player that creates offence all over the ice and makes his line-mates better for it. He really elevated his game last season I thought and helped get us back to within striking distance of an Elite League title.”

“This season we will very much miss his competitiveness, creativity & ability to change the game with every shift he took. With that being said I understand his decision to look for job opportunities outside of hockey closer to home. Sometimes we forget that hockey players to have personal lives at home.”

“I wish Chris all the best in life after hockey and if he gets that itch to play again soon, I’m always a phone call away!”

Chris Higgins spoke to A View From The Bridge on his retirement:

“I really loved my time in Belfast. Retirement was a very tough decision to make though right now I believe it is time to move on to the next stage of my life.”

“I got married last Summer and it gets harder and harder every year to pack up and leave. Now I feel like it is the right decision to get into the next phase.”

“I loved Belfast. The people of Belfast always made me feel at home. Putting on the Belfast jersey and playing in front of the crowd at The SSE was awesome and the most fun I ever had playing pro hockey.”

“Adam Keefe was one of the best Captains I ever had and I think he is going to be an unbelievable coach.”

“I told Adam and Steve the same thing – never say never. I feel like I do still have a lot of hockey left in me however right now it’s time to give the real world a shot.”

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