Well the first day of the 2019 Continental Cup in Belfast is complete. There will be a first time winner once the final buzzer goes on Sunday, but who is going to be the one who will be celebrating? The IIHF have already confirmed that should the winner come from either hosts Belfast Giants, GKS Katowice or HK Gomel then they would qualify for next season’s CHL providing the CHL organising committee ratify it. Here’s our recap of that opening day.
Game 1: GKS Katowice 2 -4 Arlan Kokshetau
The final’s favourites made a winning start in their bid to become the first winner of the Continental Cup to come from Kazakhstan. In a strange opening period, which only had eight shots on goal between the two sides, Arlan made the most of their opportunities with three goals lighting the lamp from their five shots. Konstantin Savenkov opened the scoring at 11:44 and this was added to by further goals from Stanislav Borovikov and Dmitri Potaichuk.
The second period was a bit more intense as the teams shared eight shots on goal apiece but this time it was the Poles turn to be a bit more prolific as they scored through Niko Tuhkanen; on the powerplay; and Jesse Rohtla to make a one goal game. GKS edged the third in terms of chances but Arlan secured the regulation win with a Denis Klemeshov strike at 54:21.
Game 2: Belfast Giants 5 – 0 HK Gomel
Adam Keefe and his Belfast Giants team made the best possible start to their bid for Continental Cup glory with a superb 5-0 win over Belarusian representatives HK Gomel. The Giants dominated the opening period, outshooting Gomel 15-4 but David Rutherford’s effort at 17:54 was the sole effort to light the lamp. Another comprehensive period saw the Giants extend it 2-0 thanks to Patrick Dwyer before hitting three final period goals to end day one on top of the standings.
That third period blitz saw two powerplay strikes from Darcy Murphy and Chris Higgins, the latter making his second début for the men in teal. Sandwiching these goals was yet another goal for the Giants record appearance maker Colin Shields, and at the other end of the ice Tyler Beskorowany was more than equal to whatever Gomel threw at him. The Canadian netminder finished the game with a 13 save shutout.
I spoke online to Giants fan Martin McGowan after the game for his thoughts on day one, and this is what Martin had to say:
“It’s a great start. To be honest I know that Arlan won game one but the Poles are dangerous. The Kazakhstani team were just more clinical when in front of goal. As for the Giants, I thought they were holding a bit back. They probably viewed Gomel as the probably weakest team and didn’t really get into top gear. I’m sure that this will change tomorrow night.”
Day Two sees Arlan take on Gomel in the first game of the day, with face off at 3pm, before the Giants take on Katowice in the evening game that faces off at 7pm. Stay tuned for a recap on that, and thanks for reading.