Winning home start for Belfast Giants in Challenge Cup

Belfast Giants David Rutherford with Dundee Stars Drydn Dow
Belfast Giants David Rutherford with Dundee Stars Drydn Dow

BELFAST GIANTS 4 DUNDEE STARS 1

Belfast Giants beat Dundee Stars 4-1 in Challenge Cup Group B in their first home game of the season on Friday night at the SSE Arena.

Colin Shields, Jim Vandermeer and Dustin Johner goals had the Giants 3-0 up by the end of the first period.

Francois Bouchard pulled one back in the second period but Paul Swindlehurst restored the Giants’ three-goal lead in the third period.

A win over Glasgow Clan at the SSE Arena on Saturday would seal the Giants’ place in the knockout stages.

Having got their defence of the Challenge Cup off to a successful start with a 4-2 victory away to Dundee last week the Giants got off to the perfect start as they scored just 63 seconds into the game.

All-time leading points scorer Colin Shields turned the puck into the net from close range for the early go-ahead goal, assisted by Swindlehurst who was making his competitive home debut.

However, Stephen Murphy was the busier keeper for much of what followed in the opening period.

The Giants successfully killed a couple of penalties, the home netminder fending off several goal-ward attempts from the Stars.

Another veteran in the Giants’ line-up, Vandermeer fired home with two minutes left in the period and within 40 seconds it was 3-0 as Johner scored shorthanded and unassisted, bearing down on the Stars’ goal and firing low into the net.

The Stars got back into the game in the second period

Bouchard pulling a goal back - his shot trickled into the net in spite of the best efforts of Murphy.

The Giants re-established a three-goal advantage early in the final period.

Swindlehurst finding the net in the 45th minute after the puck came back of the post of Craig Holland’s goal.

Face-off on Saturday night at the SSE Arena is 7pm.