There have been very few games in the Elite League this season for the Belfast Giants that have been considered easy.
But Tuesday night’s 9-3 dismantling of the embarrassing Dundee Stars was as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests.
In the middle of a busy holiday period of games, the Giants will take it and move on to the top of the table doubleheader against the Sheffield Steelers at the Odyssey Arena this weekend.
Colin Shields led the scoring with a hat-trick, Kevin Westgarth and Mike Kompon each netted twice with the other goals scored by Mark McCutcheon and Darryl Lloyd.
The Stars iced with only 12 skaters and 2 netminders and from the drop of the puck the Giants dominated the game.
On the powerplay at 3:23 they took the lead when Kompon’s attempted pass went in off a Dundee skate.
The visitors did equalise just over a minute later through Paul Swindlehurst but that’s as close as they got.
Adam Keefe started the next shift looking for a fight and it finished with Kompon and Lloyd fending off some feeble attempts to dispossess them of the puck and it was Lloyd who finished.
It was 3-1 before the end of the first period when Shields scored his 200th Elite League goal.
Four more goals would follow in the second period from a McCutcheon shot that crept in past Stars beleaguered goalie Marc Cheverie before Westgarth unloaded on the puck and Shields came off the bench on a delayed penalty to roof the puck into the net.
Cheverie departed for Craig Holland who was beaten by Kompon shorthanded on a breakaway with 3.3 seconds remaining in the period.
Andrew Dickson gave Giants starting netminder Carsen Chubak the final twenty minutes off and was beaten early on by Sean Ringrose but Shields would finish off his hat-trick soon after in a game that was now end-to-end and shoot on sight on both back-up goalies.
Kevin Quick netted as the Giants defence began to hang Dickson a little out to dry and in a blowout game coach Steve Thornton will not have wanted any bad habits to slip into play but as both sides took silly penalties as the clock ran down it was another Westgarth blast that made it 9-3 and rounded off the scoring.
With Cardiff beating Hull last night it means that Sheffield lead Braehead and Cardiff by a point and the Giants, in fourth place, by three going into the New Year. With Nottingham only a further three points adrift there promises to be plenty of great hockey to come in 2015.