The latest addition to the Smith Recycling-backed MK Lightning comes in the form of Canadian forward FRANCIS VERREAULT-PAUL, who moves from Sterzing/Vipiteno in Italy, competing in the Alps hockey league.
Described by Lightning Head Coach Pete Russell as “a spark plug and a handful for opposition teams”, Francis will bring with him significant experience and skills learned in North America, as he arrives for his first taste of the top British league.
Hailing from Roberval in southern Quebec, Francis proved his worth during five consecutive seasons for Chicoutimi Saguenéens (playing alongside Stan Lascek, another Chicoutimi alumni known to many MKL fans). From there he moved to McGill University and in just his second season finished as top points scorer. During his time with the Redmen, Francis played alongside Guillaume Doucet, who also debuts for MKL this season and who recommended his old team mate to Coach Russell.
Having originally hoped to work his way up through the North American leagues, Francis turned pro during an NHL lockout season so set his sights further afield. His first taste of the European game came in 2013 via a short spell in Norway and the following season he enjoyed a longer spell, with Ajoie in Switzerland. A move to Denmark in 2015 saw him average a point per game, before last season’s move to the Alps Hockey League where he was top goal scorer by quite some margin, hitting the back of the net 27 times in 32 games contributing 22 assists.
In 2003 he was part of the U17 bronze medal winning team at the World Championships and during his time at McGill University he scooped no fewer than 11 accolades – including most valuable player, first all star team (2 seasons), second all star team, outstanding player in a championship, All-Canadian team, most goals and university Cup champion.
Coach Russell said, “I am delighted to add more offensive punch to our line up in the form of Francis Verreault-Paul. He is the full package. He is a spark plug, has the highest levels of work rate and plays with a real edge in his game. He has great speed, is really skilled and knows where the net is. He can play on the wing and has been playing centre the last few seasons. He has great sense and makes good reads.
“Francis plays way bigger than his size and will be a handful for opposition teams. I love players like this and he will fit right into our play philosophy here at Lightning.
“I spoke to Guillaume Doucet and it came to light they were real good friends, roommates in college and line mates. He had nothing but good things to say about Francis on and off the ice and how his game would be right at home in the Elite League.”
Francis Verreault-Paul said he is delighted to have his first chance at playing in the UK: “I’m really excited and happy to join the Lightning. I’d like to thank coach Russell and the whole organisation for putting their trust in me by offering me this chance.
“We will be a new team in this league but I’m real confident about this group of guys. The main goal is to first make the playoffs and then anything can happen! I look forward for this new opportunity and I can’t wait to meet my new teammates, the Lightning’s organisation and the fans. Thanks again and see you soon! ‘’
Francis Verreault-Paul’s home, away and warm up jerseys will be available for sponsorship on our Own & Loan Scheme on a first come, first served basis, as soon as this announcement is published on the MKL website – the cost is £200 per home or away shirt and £150 for warm up. Email your application and any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org