Belfast Giants forward Hunter Bishop announces retirement
Belfast Giants forward Hunter Bishop has announced his retirement from ice hockey to take up a coaching role back in North America.
The 31-year-old American will return to the States where he will take up a coaching role in junior hockey with the Charleston Colonials in South Carolina.
Bishop arrived in Belfast over the summer from Austrian side HC Innsbruck to much acclaim as the final player in the Giants' roster to start the season.
The Arkansas native came in boasting 128 games in the American Hockey League (AHL) and 189 appearances in the elite Austrian league (EBEL) with Innsbruck where he averaged just under a point a game.
However, he found opportunities limited having been placed in a bottom-six role, eventually being the healthy scratch in the line-up towards the latter part of his time with the team.
In all, Bishop played 44 games for the Giants, most of which was on the fourth line, scoring just five goals and adding 24 points in that time.
He returns home with a silver medal from the Continental Cup and admits that it was a tough decision for him to come to, but an opportunity that he couldn't turn down.
"After a few discussions with my family and coach Keefe I’ve made a very tough decision to retire from hockey so that I can return home to focus on the Junior Head Coach/GM position I have accepted for next season in my home Charleston, South Carolina," said Bishop.
"It’s far harder than I ever imagined knowing that I’m done playing the game that I have loved my entire life, however I am excited about transitioning to the other side as a coach to help other young men achieve their dreams in the game that has given me so much.
"I have nothing but great things to say about the Giants organisation and the city of Belfast. Everything is done very professionally, and I’m thankful for our time here in beautiful Northern Ireland.
"I’d like to thank my teammates for being understanding with my decision, the Giants off ice team behind the scenes who made me and my family feel welcomed the moment we arrived."
American winger Jordan Smotherman, who arrived over the weekend, has taken Bishop's place on the roster and there are no further moves expected at this time.
Belfast Telegraph Digital