Belfast Giants legend Colin Shields has said he is “honoured” to take part in Team GB’s training camp one last time, amid preparations for the World Championships.
Team GB won back-to-back historic gold medals, enjoying success first when Belfast hosted the Division 1B championships back in 2017 and then again in Division 1A in Hungary just last year.
That earned the side promotion to the world’s top flight for the first time since 1994.
They will now take on elite sides like Canada and Russia in Slovakia.
Shields - who played his last ever games for the Belfast Giants at the Playoffs in Nottingham - is hoping he can once again be part of the final Team GB side, before finally hanging up his skates.
The 39-year-old has made the decision to retire from hockey after a glittering domestic and international career.
He will bow out as the all-time leading scorer for the Giants, for the Elite League, and for Team GB - and having helped secure three more trophies for the Giants, as Elite League, Challenge Cup, and Erhardt Conference champions.
Glasgow-born, but long-since calling Belfast home after 11 seasons in the teal of the Giants, Shields made his debt for GB in the 2000-01 season.
His tally of 42 international goals is a GB record.
“I’m just as excited now at training camp as I was all those years ago,” Shields said.
“I’ve had an amazing GB career and these past two years have been fantastic with two successive promotions.
“What we have achieved is remarkable and it is down to the dedication, talent and determination of a great group of players.”
He added: “Everyone here at camp knows that there is massive competition for places and I am sure the intensity will be high in the coming days.”
The Belfast link to the GB squad also includes Giants head coach Adam Keefe serving as assistant coach to GB boss Pete Russell, and Giants long-serving equipment manager Jason ‘Taff’ Ellery continuing once again in that crucial role with the international side.
Meanwhile, Giants player Mark Garside has had to withdraw from the squad, but club teammate Paul Swindlehurst is a late addition to the 30-man camp, hoping to secure a place in the final 25.
Team GB play their first warm-up game against Italy at the Skydome in Coventry on Friday, and then face Hungary in Milton Keynes on Sunday.
They will also play further warm-ups games, taking on KHL side Torpedo in Nottingham and Sheffield next weekend.
The IIHF World Championships then get underway on 10 May, with Team GB playing their first game – against Germany – the following day.
Team GB World Championships Schedule
- Saturday 11 May: Germany v GB (4.15pm)
- Sunday 12 May: GB v Canada (8.15pm)
- Tuesday 14 May: GB v Denmark (4.15pm)
- Wednesday 15 May: USA v GB (4.15pm)
- Friday 17 May: Finland v GB (8.15pm)
- Saturday 18 May: GB v Slovakia (8.15pm)
- Monday 20 May: France v GB (4.15pm)