Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Christiansen’s Giant gamble nets Saurette

Andrew Fournier will be out until March after having surgery on an injured shoulder

Doug Christiansen has revealed how a chance email led to him signing the player that he hopes will help fire the Belfast Giants to the top of the league in time for Christmas.

The Giants coach took a punt when he sent off a quick enquiry to summer target Kevin Saurette and the result is that the player will make his debut tonight against Coventry Blaze.

Not only that, the arrival of the 32-year-old Canadian is perfectly timed, with Andrew Fournier booked into hospital today to undergo surgery on a damaged shoulder — particularly as the Giants then travel to the Sheffield Steelers on Sunday, knowing that two wins can see them overtake Nottingham at the summit.

“I try to make sure I keep up to date with what might be happening with players that I have been interested in, but didn’t manage to sign for whatever reason,” said Christiansen.

“I might just send an email to ask how things are or, if they are doing well, to say that it looks like they made the right decision.

“Sometimes it might lead to something, like it did last year when we were able to bring in Aaron Clarke after we were hit with injuries and it’s been worthwhile keeping in touch with Kevin Saurette too.

“It’s tough to get a player at this time of the year, partly because they don’t want to move right before Christmas and also because the IIHF offices close, so you can’t get an International Transfer Card, so we’re particularly pleased to get him at this time.

“Having been quite far down the road with him during the summer we didn’t have to do too much. Once we thrashed out the numbers he was happy to come to Belfast.”

There will be no time for Saurette to find his feet in Belfast. Tonight’s game is sure to be stormy after the feisty nature of the Giants last visit to Coventry.

And once that is finished the focus will turn to the trip to Sheffield on Sunday, a match that is expected to provide plenty of pre-Christmas fireworks.

“We have to win our games,” said Christiansen.

“This is a massive weekend and we have to get the points. Coventry are a very good team and their 11 imports are as good as you’ll find in the league.

“Sheffield have had our number this year, but if we want to knock them out of contention and make it a two-horse race for the league then we need to get the two points from them.”

Saurette has spent the last four years in Germany’s second tier before he was released by Kaufbeuren — the club he re-joined instead of moving to Belfast — after they hit financial difficulties.

Manitoba-born Saurette clocked up an impressive tally of 155 points in 170 games in the Bundesliga

And he is just the man that Christiansen needs to step in, with Fournier expected to be missing from the line-up until early March.

Robby Sandrock is rated at no more than 50-50 to make his comeback from injury tonight, but with Jeff Mason missing through suspension the Giants are only permitted to play 10 imports while he is out, meaning that a return for Sandrock would mean another fit player missing out.

Mason will also be absent from Sunday’s game in Sheffield as he serves a three-match ban.