Belfast Telegraph

Snuffing out Blaze won't be easy, warns in-form Shields

By John Flack

The Belfast Giants have more ground to make up on Elite League leaders Cardiff Devils after the Welsh side extended their advantage at the top of the standings to six points by beating the Dundee Stars 4-1 in Scotland last night.

The Giants do have a game in hand and they will be looking to Colin Shields to keep up his impressive goal-scoring record this afternoon when they tackle the Coventry Blaze at the SSE Arena (4pm).

The veteran forward has already equalled last season's entire tally of 13 after scoring one of the goals in Friday night's 5-3 win over Braehead Clan at the same venue. Although one of the oldest members on the roster at the age of 36, Shields is enjoying one of the best seasons of his 11-year Giants career and he attributes his longevity to hard work.

"I just tailored my training in the summer because as you get older it becomes harder to train in certain ways and I came back in good shape this year," said the Scottish-born Great Britain international.

"I've been very fortunate to play with some good players; I've been with Steve Saviano for most of the season and James Desmarais, who's been picking it up lately and putting a lot of points on the board."

The Giants lost their eight-game winning streak last Wednesday night when they lost 2-1 to Manchester Storm after a hectic schedule that had involved seven games in 11 days.

However, after a sluggish display against the Storm, they performed much better in beating the Clan as they attempt to end a trophy drought that stretches two seasons.

"We got off to a good start and kept our discipline, in the main, which is important because five-on-five we can be a very dangerous team," Shields added.

"I thought we did extremely well to keep them out in the third period, especially after we had a man in the penalty-box for four minutes. It's been a mental grind with so many games back-to-back and not much time off and when we did have time off it tended to be a travel day.

"You just couldn't get into a rest routine but that happens and I thought we played well for the most part of that busy stretch.

"It's a long season and a lot of things can happen but if you concentrate on doing the right things and if you can do that over the course of the season, hopefully that's going to put you in a good position to challenge and be up there in the league.

"At the halfway stage, if we'd been told that we would be where we are now we'd certainly have taken it; we worked on a few things from last year and you can see there's good buy-in and the guys we've got now are keen to win things and that's the most important thing."

The Giants have a decent record against the Blaze, having won four out of six ties this season, but Shields, now in his third spell with the Giants, says nothing can be taken for granted.

"They're a dangerous team and they've got a couple of new forwards that caused us trouble last time and even though we won 3-0, our goaltender Stephen Murphy was excellent," he said.

Giants player-coach, Derrick Walser may recall back-up goalie Jackson Whistle for today's game as he continues his rotation policy.

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