Shields has mixed start in Japanese tournament

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STEELERS’ coach Ryan Finnerty is keeping a long-distance eye on the way Colin Shields is being used by Great Britain in the Olympic pre-qualifying tournament in Japan this weekend.

Shields was in the team that lost 5-4 to Korea yesterday.

The Elite Legue’s top British scorer netted, but missed a penalty shot, as GB, picked up a point for the regular time tie.

Shields has played mainly at centre in the past but that is the position Finnerty has moved him from, at home. It’s a switch that’s paid dividends.

Shields who has scored two hat-tricks in three games in October had a moderate start with Steelers after joining from French club Morzine-Avoriaz.

Finnerty said: “Colin struggled at first with us. I benched him earlier in the year because, as a centre, it wasn’t quite working for him, or me. I thought by playing him on the wing he’d have less to worry about defensively. I took that responsibility away from him. He’s adapted well on a line with Legue and Tait.

“I communicate well with my guys and he understood why I’d benched him and why I switched his position. We’ve moved on now and I’m very happy with him and his line.”

GB had led three times in their opening game. Craig Peacock and David Longstaff seemingly put GB in control at 2-0 within four minutes 4:28 on the powerplay. Ben O’Connor and Shields scored the others. But Shields and Longstaff missed penalty shots after overtime and GB lost.

They play their second game today against Romania.

Victory for GB and a win for Japan today would mean a winners-takes-all clash between GB v Japan, to end the tournament tomorrow.