Retiring Belfast Giants forward Hunter Bishop says it was far harder than he expected to come to terms with his decision to hang up his skates.
The 31-year-old will leave Adam Keefe’s side immediately to become the junior head coach and general manager at Charleston Colonials from next season in his home city.
But he’s excited about the next chapter of his career as he gets ready to adapt to life after playing and says he leaves with some great memories from his short time in the EIHL.
“It’s far harder than I ever imagined knowing that I’m done playing the game that I have loved my entire life,” Bishop said in a club statement.
“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 Northern Ireland.
“After a few discussions with my family and coach Keefe I’ve made a very tough decision to retire from hockey so I’d like to thank my teammates for being understanding with my decision and the Giants off-ice team who made me and my family feel so welcome.”
Bishop arrived in the summer after three years at EBEL side HC Innsbruck’s and picked up five goals and 17 assists in 38 games.
He also helped the Giants to a first-ever European medal after they finished second in the IIHF Continental Cup final group last month.
Bishop’s departure comes a day after the club announced the signing of Jordan Smotherman, who made his debut in Sunday’s victory over Nottingham Panthers.