Colin Shields celebrates following a goal against the Netherlands in the 2017 IIHF World Championship Division IB. Picture: Dean Woolley
Hat-trick makes forward GB’s leading scorer
Colin Shields delighted his home crowd in Belfast by taking his international tally to 41 goals and setting a new record for his country.
GB forward Colin Shields topped Tony Hand’s modern-day scoring record for his country after bagging three goals in a 14-0 demolition of the Netherlands.
Shields, a one-time Philadelphia draft pick, took his international tally to 41, drawing level with the legendary former Murrayfield Racers man in front of his home crowd in Belfast. The all-time record, established before the war by Olympic champion Gerry Davey, stands at 45.
The 37-year-old opened the scoring seven seconds into GB’s first power play of the night, redirecting a Ben O’Connor effort past Sjoerd Idzenga in the Dutch net. Then, with the beleaguered Dutch defence all at sea yet again, Shields notched his 40th international marker in the 33rd minute to make the score 7-0 and end Idzenga’s unhappy evening between the piping.
But the biggest cheer of a great night for the host nation came in the 50th minute when Evan Mosey played the puck out to Shields in the left-hand circle. Another fine finish made the scoreline 11-0 and secured the forward’s place in the record books. “Are you watching, Tony Hand?” sang the crowd, thrilled to witness the long-serving Giants’ star's achievement.
"It was a special moment. I live in Belfast, this is my home and I'll probably stay here after my hockey career is over," said Shields after the game. "It's great to do it in front of the Belfast Giants fans as well as the GB fans, and obviously it was an honour to have Tony here too."
Hand was indeed watching, and made the post-game presentation to Shields as a thunderous ovation rolled around the arena.
"Tony just said congrats," Sheilds said. "I've known him since I was 13 or 14, I've watched him play when I was growing up and played with him on the national team. He's a gentleman, he wished me all the best."
For Britain, this emphatic victory sets up a gold-medal showdown against Japan on Saturday evening – and it wasn’t just Shields who had a night to remember. Young Sam Duggan, playing his first senior international tournament at the age of 18, got his first goals for GB’s men’s team. First he put away the rebound after a Robert Lachowicz shot for the 3-0 goal, then he got Britain’s seventh off a Lachowicz feed after the Dutch turned over possession on the red line. Brendan Brooks, another player making his World Championship debut for the Brits here in Belfast, also got his first goal of the tournament, following up a Robert Farmer shot. He went on to add a second in the third period.
There were further markers for Jonathan Phillips, Craig Peacock, Lachowicz, Liam Stewart, Robert Dowd (2) and Matt Myers as the Brits ran riot to record their biggest victory in the 21st century. The previous best was a 12-0 win over Israel in 2006. Indeed, you have to go back to the last time the country hosted a World Championship on home ice for a bigger margin – a 15-0 thrashing of Korea in Hull in 1992.
It wasn't just about the scoring. GB also impressed with a shut-out after allowing the Dutch just 11 shots on Stephen Murphy's net.
"We had a bit of trouble with the Dutch, we played a couple of tight games in recent years but we've been playing pretty well as a team and we wanted to make sure we continued that," Shields added. "It was pretty clinical from top to bottom. It was good to get everybody involved.
"It was the most complete game we've played as far in the tournament, we kept the shots to 10 or 11 which is incredible at this kind of level. I know they were missing quite a few players, but a couple of years ago we squeaked a 3-2 in Holland and that shows how far we have come."
For the Netherlands, a difficult week continued. Short of key players, the Dutch must now beat Estonia tomorrow and hope that Croatia takes something from Lithuania to ease the path to Division IB survival. But for GB, it's all about the promotion push - and for those seeking omens, the last time the team won 14-0, against China in 1993, it succeeded in claiming gold.