The Stena Line Belfast Giants opened their Continental Cup Final with an emphatic 5-0 win in Belfast against HK Gomel of Belarus on Friday night at The SSE Arena.
Goals from Rutherford, Dwyer, D.Murphy, Shields and Higgins gave the hosts the perfect start to their Continental Cup Final campaign.
Friday night’s earlier game saw Arlan Kokshetau of Kazakstan defeat Poland’s GKS Katowice 4-2.
Next up for the Giants is Katowice at 7pm on Saturday night.
Tyler Beskorowany’s shutout backstopped the Giants to the win in the Belfast net with Guillaume Gelinas, Matt Towe and Andrew Dickson missing for the Giants.
The opening period was an end-to-end affair as both sides tried to get their Continental Cup Final campaigns off to a flying start.
It was the hosts who found the breakthrough when Curtis Leonard’s shot on goal was redirected into the Gomel goal at 17:54 by David Rutherford.
Pat Dwyer doubled the Belfast lead at 21:58 when he danced around two skaters and fired low, assisted by Josh Roach and Curtis Leonard.
The Giants made it three on the night when David Rutherford’s classy play with a no-look pass set up Darcy Murphy to score from a tight angle at 44:02.
At 50:20 it was four – when Darcy Murphy turned from scorer to provider as he dished the puck to Colin Shields who ripped home a wrist shot into the bottom corner.
Chris Higgins, making his debut for the Giants with his third spell in Belfast, rounded off the scoring at 57:41 when he picked up on the rebound from Dwyer’s effort and the Giants were home and dry with the points in the bag before Saturday night’s game.
The Giants return to the ice immediately for the second of their three IIHF Continental Cup Final games.
The Giants face GKS Katowice (Poland), face-off 7pm and Arlan Kokshetau (Kazakstan) on Sunday at 5pm.
Tickets for both games are available from the Arena Box Office in person or by calling (028) 9073 9074 as well as online from ticketmaster.ie.