Belfast Telegraph

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Ruthless Giants skate on with eight goal cup spree

By Adam McKendry

By the time the buzzer sounded to call an end to the first period in Dundee, this tie was effectively over as a contest.

By the time the buzzer for the end of the first-leg game sounded, it was definitely over.

Sure, the two sides still have the second leg of this Challenge Cup quarter-final to go in Belfast, but such was the dominance that the Giants showed in this facile 8-0 win that it would be nothing short of sensational if the Stars turned this one-sided scoreline around.

On any other night, Tyler Beskorowany's second shut-out as a Belfast Giant would be the main talking point but, such was the dominance at both ends of the ice, it became something of an afterthought.

At times the Giants toyed with their opponents on their home ice, simply content to pass it around idly in a performance resembling a half-speed practice drill.

They were helped by the fact that Dundee were forced to start their back-up netminder Craig Holland, with Pontus Sjogren injured, but, in truth, it's doubtful the Swede would have done better.

In hindsight, it's somewhat ironic that the game began with the Giants doing some impressive work by killing a five-on-three penalty given the offensive masterclass they were about to put on.

But once the Giants' defensive duties had been squared away, the forward lines got to work, starting at 8:01 when they took the lead.

Blair Riley did some good work down the boards to keep play in the offensive zone, Lewis Hook returned the puck to his captain and David Rutherford did the rest, taking Riley's pass and finishing on the backhand past Holland.

Rutherford doubled his personal tally, and the Giants', at 12:13, finishing from a tight angle down the right wing after being set away by Darcy Murphy, and Kyle Baun made it three at the intermission when he finished Patrick Dwyer's cross-crease pass at the backdoor on the five-on-three at 15:32.

Under the circumstances, Jonathan Ferland was probably kicking himself when he fired wide from out in front, but he didn't have to wait long for a goal.

It came on the powerplay too, at 24:30, Josh Roach's shot from the point batted back into the danger zone by Holland where Ferland was lurking to scoop it in.

Holland did manage to grant the Stars a brief reprieve when he denied Riley five-hole on a breakaway, but it was only temporary as the Giants refused to let up.

The fifth, at 28:08, did have a bit of good fortune about it, the puck breaking nicely for Hook when he blocked a shot, but there was nothing fortuitous about the finish, the Brit hitting his mark with precision.

And by the time Hunter Bishop grabbed the goal of the game, the Giants were no longer celebrating every time the puck went in.

His solo goal came short-handed, and what a finish it was too, the American taking the puck down the boards, dragging it through the legs of Dundee defenceman Drydn Dow and deftly tapping it through Holland's five-hole at 34:36.

The traditional glove taps in celebration were done away with, Bishop simply taking his place on the bench in an almost sheepish fashion, and it didn't get any better for the Stars as the seventh promptly followed.

This time it was an aggressive forecheck on the penalty kill from the Giants that saw Dustin Johner win possession behind the net, and his feed back in front allowed Baun to finish off his second at 35:51, again short-handed.

By the time the third period had begun, Dwyer had been taken out of the game as a precaution and, had he not been on for the shut-out, you suspect Beskorowany may have joined him.

Instead, the outstanding netminder stayed on the ice and made a good stop from Charles Corcoran as the hosts finally showed some kind of spark.

And yet it was the Giants who again found the goal next, Jim Vandermeer's shot from the blueline flying through traffic and beating Holland up high for the eighth at 45:12.

Fabrizio Ricci should have ended Beskorowany's shut-out bid when he somehow fired straight at the goalie all alone out in front, while Riley will be perplexed at how he didn't get a goal of his own when Holland denied him late on.

Not that he'll mind too much though. This was clinically efficient and ruthlessly dominant from the Giants.

Dundee Stars 0 - 8 Belfast Giants

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