International Ice Hockey Federation

Gigantic start

Gigantic start

Host Belfast Giants opens with 5-0 win over Gomel

Published 12.01.2019 02:27 GMT+3 | Author Martin Merk
Gigantic start
Chris Higgins scores the Belfast Giant’s fifth goal against HK Gomel. Photo: William Cherry
It could hardly have been a better start for the Belfast Giants, the hosts of the 2019 IIHF Continental Cup Final.

The team from the Northern Irish capital skated to a 5-0 blanking of HK Gomel from Belarus to start the tournament.

Tyler Beskorowany just needed 13 saves for a shutout while five different players scored up-front. HK Gomel, this season just a midfield team in the Belarusian Extraliga, couldn’t keep up with the Giants power.

“We have been pretty good throughout the 60 minutes. It was tough getting inside and getting quality scoring chances at the start but the guys kept pretty well going and you see the result,” said Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe.

The game was held scoreless for over 17 minutes until the local team’s offensive effort was rewarded. With 2:06 left in the opening frame Josh Roach passed the puck from left to Curtis Leonard to the other side and David Rutherford scored in front of the net.

The second period started equally well for the Giants. At 1:58 long-time NHLer Patrick Dwyer showed his class by skating around Yevgeni Khuzeyev before beating goaltender Roman Bobariko for the 2-0 goal.

At the start of the third period history repeated when the Giants were on the power play. At 4:02 Rutherford tried his luck with a pass along the goal line and Darcy Murphy scored from the other side.

The period ended with feel-good stories for the Giants fans. Six minutes later Great Britain national team forward Colin Shields scored his first goal after coming back from an eye injury that had kept him out for several months.

“It was a team we didn’t know much about. We did a bit of research, had scouting reports but it’s a team from a country we’re not too familiar with even from the World Championship,” Shields said after the game. “We didn’t really know what to expect and did a good job of controlling the play and that we took care of our own game and we were fortunate enough to get a goal and another goal and the lead and built on it.”

Then another comebacker even scored in his first game after a break from hockey for over one-and-a-half years. With 2:19 left the Giants confused the Gomel defence with a pass from behind the net. The Belarusians didn’t manage to get the puck under control and Chris Higgins capitalized on the situation to increase the lead to 5-0. Higgins came back to Belfast to join his long-time team mate and now head coach Adam Keefe just recently.

After the tough score HK Gomel needs to regroup for a game between the two Russian-speaking teams in Belfast against Arlan Kokshetau. Arlan won the clash in the preliminary round 3-0. Also the evening game between the Belfast Giants and GKS Katowice will be a rematch from last November. The Poles won that game 4-2 although Belfast was already known as the winner of the third-round tournament the day before.

“They will come out hard. They are skilled, have a dangerous power play, so we have to be disciplined and stay out of the box,” Keefe said about the Giants’ next opponent.


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