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No Looking Back A blinding accident hasn't stopped David-Alexandre Beauregard

David-Alexandre Beauregard betrays no sadness when he tells his
tale. He doesn't curse the event that changed his life, nor does
he dwell upon it. Beauregard, 23, is pleased to be an
outstanding left wing for the Flint Generals in the United
Hockey League (UHL) and proud that the 51 goals he had scored in
67 games through Saturday was the second-best total in the
low-rung circuit. Beauregard indulges in few fantasies of what
might have been. Even in his dreams, he says, he has only one
good eye. "That's who I am," he says. "I can't remember how
things looked when I had full sight."

In the fall of 1994 Beauregard, then 18, was a premier sniper
for the St. Hyacinthe Lasers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey
League. He had been the 11th-round pick of the San Jose Sharks
the previous June.

Swift and nimble with the puck, Beauregard was on a breakaway in
a Lasers game against the Granby Bisons on Oct. 16, 1994, when
Bisons winger Xavier Delisle lunged and tried to stop Beauregard
with his stick. In a horrifying accident Delisle's blade rode up
Beauregard's body, slipped beneath his visor and gouged his left
eye. In an instant Beauregard was blind in that eye.

The stick blade had punctured Beauregard's eye, draining its
humors and severing crucial blood vessels. The eye sagged, not
unlike a deflated balloon, and Beauregard underwent surgery in
which a soft plastic ball was sewn into his eye to reaffirm its
natural shape.

Within a week Beauregard was skating informally with teammates.
He would put his stick down to receive a pass, and the puck
would glide by several feet away. He bumbled into the boards.
Off the ice Beauregard was Captain Klutz, knocking over water
glasses at the dinner table, reaching to shake an extended hand
and missing it. Still, he kept his poise and spent hours on the
ice each day, and gradually began to regain his spatial sense.
When he announced in early '95 that he planned to make a
comeback, the naysayers emerged from every recess in the
province of Quebec, warning him that he could be killed by a
blindside check.

On Jan. 16, 1995, Beauregard suited up for St. Hyacinthe and
scored a goal against Val d'Or Foreurs. He played 19 more games
that year, with modest success, but he was fearful. Playing
behind a full face shield, as he does today, Beauregard swiveled
his head incessantly and flinched at passing shadows. "I was
scared someone would hit me and I'd fall down, paralyzed," says
Beauregard. "But over time the fear started going away. Now I
know when someone's going to hit me on my left side. I don't
know how, but I'm always ready. It's like a sixth sense."

Despite his comeback with St. Hyacinthe, Beauregard was left
unprotected in an expansion draft and was selected by the
Moncton Alpines. When he scored 34 goals in 41 games in 1995,
the financially strapped Alpines sold him for $100,000 to the
Hull Olympiques, who in '96-97 traded him to the Shawnigan
Cataractes. All told, Beauregard scored 67 goals in 94 games
over the '95-96 and '96-97 seasons. Last year he was named
rookie of the year in the Central Hockey League after he scored
42 goals in 57 games for the Wichita Thunder. He started this
season with the UHL Muskegon Fury but was again traded, this
time to the Generals in February.

Beauregard talks of moving up to the American or International
League, the top minor leagues, in which he has made brief
appearances. He hopes to play in Europe someday. The NHL is not
an option: It bars players with Beauregard's condition.

In the small cities of the UHL, Beauregard visits hospitals and
talks to children about his disability. Other players say he
inspires them as they grind through the season. Not even the
pond scum that surfaces now and then--the opponents who skate
over and snarl, "I'm going to take your other eye"--dampens
Beauregard's zest. "Happy," says Flint goalie Jean-Yves Dube.
"He is always happy."

Beauregard can catch a football and hit a baseball, and his
driver's license has no restrictions. Yet, he says, "some things
are hard. When a fly is buzzing around, I have no idea where it
is, but that's because I haven't worried about it. If I
practiced, I could catch that fly. I've learned there's a
solution to every problem."

--Kostya Kennedy

COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER Beauregard, who now wears a full face shield, has become a star for the Generals.