Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants can still lift this cup: Shields

By Stuart McKinley

Colin Shields is refusing to give up on winning the Elite League title - but is focused on one piece of silverware that the Belfast Giants can secure without relying on favours from other teams.

And the Giants captain isn’t concerned that the Nottingham Panthers will come to the Odyssey Arena for the second leg of the Challenge Cup final tonight holding a 3-1 lead from last week’s first meeting.

Far from it. Having scored a total of 21 goals in two games last weekend, Shields is confident that there is sufficient firepower in the ranks to overturn to deficit and ensure that it’s the Giants’ colours that are tied to the trophy.

“We do have a big task ahead of us, but we’re only two goals down. If it had been three goals we’d pretty much have had to go all out offense, but two goals isn’t a lot,” said Shields.

“In any game you’re trying to score and you can score two goals in one period.

“We’ve shown that we are capable of scoring goals and we scored seven against Nottingham the last time they were here.

“Nottingham have a lot of guys who can score goals too. The main thing is not to let them score, so we’ll not be pushing too much too early for a goal ourselves because we don’t want to give up one.

“A three-goal deficit would make it much harder to come back from.”

The Giants were in the chase for three trophies a week ago — technically they still are. Those hopes took two hits in the space of 24 hours last week when Nottingham won the first leg of the final and the next night the Sheffield Steelers took control in the race for the Elite League title when they beat Doug Christiansen’s men 4-3 in Yorkshire.

Time is running out for the Sheffield Steelers and the Cardiff Devils to stumble in the league with only two games left.

All that means that cup success and a tilt at the Play-offs are now the most likely means of success for the Giants this season — and starting with a big performance tonight would help their |ambitions.

“Until Sunday night the league is still up for grabs and that’s what we’ll be thinking,” said Glasgow-born Shields.

“It could potentially be a very exciting weekend. We’ll see how things go. All the other games are out of our control. Our focus will be on our own games and first of all we have to focus on Nottingham and trying to beat them.

“If we can win the Challenge Cup it will give us a confidence boost going into two very important games at the weekend and no matter what happens then we’ll be confident in the Play-offs.”

Shields is one of only three survivors in the Giants team from their previous Challenge Cup success two seasons ago — Stephen Murphy and Graeme Walton being the other two.

He had only been captain for a few months when he lifted the Play-off trophy in Nottingham at the end of last season and now he wants to display some silverware in front of the home fans at the Odyssey.

“It would be great to win a championship in Belfast and for me to lift a trophy at the Odyssey. This is the only chance we have this season,” said Shields.

“All the guys really want that and we’re all ready to go out and do everything we can to make it happen.”

Belfast Telegraph

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