Belfast Giants forward Colin Shields has taken time out from his preparations with Team GB to talk to young people from the Odyssey Academy about the side’s chances of winning gold in Belfast.
The students spent their morning taking part in a skills workshop, learning how to research and prepare for interviews before getting the long-serving Giants and GB player in front of the camera.
And they knew exactly what they wanted to hear from Shields.
How did he fancy GB’s chances against some tough competition like Japan and, in particular, how did he think they might fare against their next opponents?
When the students spoke to Shields, GB – under head coach Pete Russell – were due to face Lithuania at the SSE Arena on Wednesday night.
“Last year, we dominated the game against them,” Shields told the Odyssey Academy crew, recalling his team’s 8-0 win in Zagreb in which he was among the goal-scorers.
“So hopefully we can put in another good performance and get the right result.”
And as it happens, that was exactly how it played out, with the man himself scoring the opening goal and helping the team to a 5-2 win to tie with Japan on nine points after three wins out of three.
The Netherlands, Croatia and Estonia round out the group and the team with the most points at the end of the week’s action will win the coveted gold medal and promotion from Division 1B to the next tier – Division 1A.
The team with the least points faces relegation down to Division 2.
Shields and his GB teammates are due to play Japan, the highest ranked side in the group, in their final game on Saturday and they are certainly hoping those two teams will be the ones battling it out for gold.
With the national team going from strength to strength and the Elite League in which the Giants play proving more and more competitive, Shields told the Odyssey Academy he was feeling positive about the future of ice hockey across the UK.
“I think it’s heading in the right direction – and hopefully we’ll continue to see the young British players coming through,” he said.
Glasgow-born Shields also faced questions on how he got into ice hockey as a youngster growing up in Scotland, what life was like as a Belfast Giant, and who their biggest rivals were in the league.