Colin Shields poised to set Belfast Giants record
COLIN Shields's long wait to achieve a memorable milestone is about to end as he prepares to make his Belfast Giants comeback from injury against Sheffield Steelers in tonight's Elite League encounter at the SSE Arena.
The 38-year-old forward, who has been with the club for three spells spanning 13 years, is set to make a club record 585th appearance after recovering from an eye injury which has kept him out for all but five games in the current season.
The Scot, who helped Great Britain reach the top flight of the World Championship last year, is also the league's leading points scorer after clocking up his 600th last season.
The Giants are one point off the pace going into the weekend home double header with Sheffield after Cardiff Devils took over at the top of the standings following their midweek win over Guildford Flames.
The Steelers are in sixth spot, 15 points behind Adam Keefe's team, and boast familiar faces in Rob Dowd and Davey Phillips as well as Jackson Whistle and Ryan Martinelli, who make their first return to Belfast after winning the Challenge Cup with the Giants last season.
However, the Giants head coach found a like-for-like replacement for Whistle after recruiting Tyler Beskorowany from the now disbanded Edinburgh Capitals.
Beskorowany has been a model of consistency this season and leads the Elite League netminders' stats following numerous man-of-the-match awards and several shout outs.
However, the Giants will be aiming to bounce back from last Sunday's 3-2 defeat to Dundee Stars, having thrashed the Scots 8-0 in the away leg of the Challenge Cup just a few weeks earlier.
The bulk of the Giants' remaining 27 league games are at home but their head coach will be looking for improved form in front of the Belfast faithful.
"In October and November when we won 13 out of 16 road games, we did really well, but in December, we struggled to find our form at home," said Keefe.
"In the meantime, Cardiff have been creeping up on us as they generally do at this time of the year but I prefer to concentrate on our own performances.
"We are where we want to be, still in contention for the league, the Challenge Cup and we also have the Continental Cup finals to look forward to
"We need to stay healthy and focus on our own details, building on things and taking each game at a time, starting with the first Sheffield game this weekend."