As we sit here looking at the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Finals, we look at one former Michigan goalie jumpstarted Michigan's 21 straight tournament appearances, and made it to two Frozen Fours, but never got to the final game. Then he was able to make it into the show and had a steady career, including three fights with fellow goalies (Steve Passmore, Sean Burke, and Garth Snow). Even so, he's been coast-to-coast and took his technological skills in his new career. This week, a look at Steve Shields.
Shields started off with the North Bay Trappers and St. Mary Trappers of Junior A leagues in Ontario before committing to the University of Michigan. Starting in the 1990-91 campaign, Shields would jump into starter's role, playing in 37 games with a 26-6-3 record, which was enough for him to get drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1991 Draft. In his sophomore campaign in 1991-92, Shields went 27-7-2 in 37 games with a 2.84 GAA, helping Michigan to the Frozen Four, but losing in OT in their match-up. During his Junior year, Shields was more than capable to carry the 39 game workload, going 30-6-2 with two shutouts and a 2.22 GAA, getting the Wolverines to the Frozen Four again, but failing to advance past the four. Shields was named CCHA First Team All-Star and NCAA-West Second Team All-Star squad. For his senior season, Shields went 28-6-1 in 36 games while helping Michigan to the CCHA championship, their first ever. Shields again took home CCHA First Team All-Star and NCAA-West Second Team All-Star honors. Shields would leave school with the NCAA record for most wins (111), but it was broken by another Wolverine, Marty Turco (127).
After college, Shields would start his pro career in both Rochester of the AHL and South Carolina of the ECHL. While in Rochester, Shields played 13 games, sporting a 3-8-0 record; while in South Carolina he went 11-5-2 in 21 games, with two shutouts. The 1995-96 season would see Shields step up in Rochester, going 20-17-2 in 43 games; while also getting two games up in Buffalo, going 1-0-0. In the playoffs, Rochester and Shields would dominate, as he would go 15-3, as Rochester won the Calder Cup. Shields would start off the 1996-97 season with Rochester, playing 23 games with a 14-6-2 record before getting the recall from Buffalo to end the season, where he would go 3-8-2 in 13 regular season games, but then go 4-6 in 10 playoff games. Shields would be up with the Sabres for the 1997-98 season, playing in 16 games with a 3-6-4 record, while spending a game in Rochester, which was a losing effort.
During the 1998 Entry Draft, Shields and a pick were traded to the San Jose Sharks for former AGM Kay Whitmore and a pick. The 1998-99 season saw Shields play behind Mike Vernon, playing 37 games with a solid 15-11-8 record, 2.22 GAA and .921 save percentage. That performance allowed the Sharks to get rid of Vernon in the 1999-2000 season and Shields took the starting role, playing in 67 games, with a 27-30-8 then going 5-7 in the playoffs. The 2000-01 season was one of injury for Shields, as he would go down to an ankle injury early-- opening the door for Evgeni Nabokov to take over the starting role. Shields got his time in, playing 21 games and going 6-8-5 before going down with an injury with his shoulder ligaments. With Nabokov gaining stardom and the wealth of prospect goalies in their system, Shields would be the odd-man out.
During the trade deadline of 2001 and days before his shoulder injury-- Shields and Jeff Friesen were traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Teemu Selanne. While he didn't play with the Ducks in 2000-01, he came back for the 2001-02 season playing along J-S Giguere, but wouldn't fare well, going 9-20-2 in 33 games.
During the 2002 Draft, Shields was traded to the Boston Bruins for a third-round pick, where he would be a part of a carousel of goalies, but would get the most game-time out of five keepers to play that year with a 12-13-9 record in 36 games.
Before the start of the 2003-04 season, Shields would be traded to the Florida Panthers for future considerations. Shields would only play 16 games behind Roberto Luongo with a 3-6-1 record.
Shields didn't play anywhere during the lockout season of 2004-05, but would return after the season started in 2005-06-- signing with the Atlanta Thrashers. Shields would go 1-2-1 in five games and would have played four games in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves, finishing with a 2-2-0 record.
One more kick in the can for Shields in the 2006-07 season, signing as a free agent with the AHL's Houston Aeros, but would only play one game in relief, letting up three goals on nine shots in that appearance. After that, Shields would hang-up the pads.
After his pro career was over, Shields would continue to play in the Northeast with amateur teams as a forward. Currently, Shields has gotten his hands into the technology and coaching segment, helping to start up iCoach.com, a remote coaching site for a mass of teams and coaches.
While there was a lot of promise, Shields never got a good shake with solid teams to solidify what he could have done with some teams. When he got on later in his career, he got stuck behind other goalies who had a step up on him in the system or was on a team that was in a rebuild and didn't have the parts to help him out. That said, the college career from Shields was one that will be remember and could be credited to jumpstarting that program again.