Belfast Giants forward Colin Shields says he was blown away by the ovation he received from the fans after Saturday’s 6-4 win over Dundee Stars.
The retiring 39-year-old had quite the week when he announced his retirement on Tuesday then on Sunday, he was an Elite League champion for the third time.
And he reflected on the last seven days, including his chance to thank the fans who showed him so much love at the SSE Arena.
“Saturday night and the ovation I received from the fans was really special. I wasn’t expecting anything like that, he said. “I’ve had a lot of incredible support from everyone and for the fans to do that for me is something I’ll never forget.
“It certainly brought a tear to my eye after what had already been an emotional week. All the messages I had from former team-mates and former players I’d played against was really special and it meant a lot to me.
“It was a big moment for us, as a team, to go and win the Elite League too. After the game on Saturday, we went into Sunday with a bit of hope, bearing in mind Cardiff were back to back champions.
“So to win it at our awards with the rest of the players and the fans all there was pretty special. We were there for the night to start at 7.30pm and the room was full of people refreshing live scoring on their phones.
What an amazing send off last night! Thank you for all the messages and kind words 🙏 It’s been an incredible journey and I couldn’t have done it without you @BelfastGiants family! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/H3Nu1xJ59o
— Colin Shields (@sheds19) March 31, 2019
“When the final buzzer had gone in Coventry, the whole place erupted.”
Before Shields hangs up the skates properly, there’s the small matters of the play-offs, starting this week when the Giants take on Coventry Blaze for a place in the final four in Nottingham
After that, he’s hoping to make the cut for the final Great Britain squad for the World Championships in Slovakia when he’ll achieve the dream of competing against the big hitters from USA and Canada before he does what lies ahead for him, as he explains.
Shields added: “I own a gym in Belfast, dealing with conditioning and personal training and I also work with the Irish field hockey teams so I’ll be looking expand on that, as well as spend time with my wife of course.
“Plus I’ll continue to work with the Giants in strengthening and conditioning, so it’ll be good to look more into working in those other areas. I don’t see myself coaching at this point quite yet.
“But first, it’s back to work to play Coventry, who have given us some good games this season so we’ll be ready for another challenge.
“After that, hopefully we’ll be in the final four, anything can happen. They’re always tight games the you get to the last weekend and for me, it would be a great way to go out.”