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Belfast Giants legend Colin Shield jersey retired

The esteem in which the legendary Scottish-born player is held was clear in the form of enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation after the fitting tribute, ahead of tonight’s Belfast Giants v Glasgow Clan match, which Belfast has won 5-1.

Retirement from Jersey is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a player, and an honor reserved for the few whose impact on the ice matches their cultural impact off the rink.

Shields’ number, which will now be retired, is only the seventh to hang at The Bridge in the SSE Arena in the team’s 21-year history. His jersey joins previous Giants jerseys, 11 (Colin Ward); 27 (Paxton Schulte); 16 (Rob Stewart); 4 (Shane Johnson); 18 years old (Graeme Walton) and 44 years old (Todd Kelman).

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Belfast Giants players wearing #19 Shields shirts during the warm up ahead of last Friday’s Elite Ice Hockey League match against Glasgow Clan at the SSE Arena, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

In a stellar career for the Belfast Giants spanning 14 years, NHL rookie Shields won it all. En route to racking up three EIHL Championship titles, three Challenge Cups, an EIHL Knockout title, a Knockout Cup, a Captain’s title and a host of individual league accolades in Teal, Shields established the Belfast Giants record for most appearances (611), goals (245), assists (395) and total points (644).

He also broke the goalscoring record for the GB Men team, retiring with a string of medals, including back-to-back Division 1B and 1A golds, which helped the team return to the elite in 2018; their first appearance since 1994.

His retirement in 2019 was followed by induction into the UK Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2021 and now, after a long wait due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Belfast’s number 19 is finally taking his rightful place alongside immortals.

Speaking at the game, Colin Shields said: “It’s hard to put into words what this means. it is a very proud moment. It’s an honour, especially for an organization and a city like Belfast, which means a lot to me. I played here a long time, I live here now and I made my life here.

Belfast Giants legend Colin Shields #19 Jersey retired and the banner hung in the SSE Arena, Belfast ahead of Friday night’s EIHL game against Glasgow Clan. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

“If you think of the Giants; think of the past 20 plus years, there have been many successes and many trophies – I have been very lucky to be part of many of them. We share memories of those good times, not only with players, teammates and coaches, but also with fans and people who work for the organization and volunteers.

“These are times and memories that you will always remember. When you retire and you sit down and reflect, you realize that only then do you really appreciate it. Come back tonight and Seeing all the familiar faces and the fans is really special. It’s a real honor and a big moment for me.

For Shields, being a Belfast giant and experiencing the passion and support of the teal army has been the “highlight of his life”, as he explains: “Someone said a few weeks ago that it t was more than just a game and more than a hockey club. I think that’s true. This club unifies the city and brings people together from all walks of life and that means a lot when you see the incredible passion and the fan engagement.

“We saw it with winning the Challenge Cup, and I’ve seen it before, when we won trophies. It means a lot to the fans, but it also means a lot to the players to see the support from the fans too. “They’ve always been behind us; even in tough times. They expect wins and that pressure makes you want to make sure you’re performing on the ice. It makes you want to win and there’s no no better place than Belfast to do it.

Steve Thornton, Head of Hockey for the Belfast Giants, said: “Tonight was a very special night as we recognize a true Belfast Giants legend. Colin has had an incredible career and his impact on this team and this community, both on and off the ice, cannot be underestimated. The love there is for him in this team and within this fan base was so clear and we are proud to retire his number in recognition of his incredible contribution to Belfast.