GKS Katowice 2-4 Arlan Kokshetau
Belfast Giants 5-0 HK Gomel
The mood was high at the SSE Arena as the weekend of European action got underway with the Giants on the right path as they look to win the tournament on home ice.
And what a night it was with five goals, including one from Chris Higgins, back in teal for his first appearance since retiring in 2017.
The opening period was an end-to-end affair as both teams looked to get themselves on the right footing from the off.
But it was the Giants who made the breakthrough as David Rutherford got a touch on Curtis Leonard’s shot with two minutes of the first to go to give them the lead.
Pat Dwyer showed some great individual skill to finish off a second goal for the Giants early in the middle session to strengthen their lead.
The third came in the final period as Belfast really turned the screw as Rutherford set up Darcy Murphy, who finished from the angle.
Colin Shields’ fourth was a wrist shot into the bottom corner of the net to make the night even better, but the highlight was yet to come.
Higgins put the icing on the cake as he began his third spell with the club, finishing the rebound from Dwyer’s shot to make it five and seal a great night for the Giants, who play GKS Katowice in the second game on Saturday.
EARLIER IN THE DAY
Kazahk side Arlan Kokshetau demonstrated their credentials with a 4-2 win over Polish outfit GKS Katowice in the first game of the day.
They were three up after the first through Konstantin Savenkov and powerplay strikes from Stanislav Borovikov and Dmitri Potaichuk.
Katowice got themselves back to within a goal as Niko Tuhkanen and Jesse Rohtla both struck to make things a little more interesting.
But Denis Klemeshov’s finish with six minutes to go confirmed an opening win for Kokshetau, who turn their attentions to HK Gomel on Saturday afternoon.
Arlan Kokshetau vs HK Gomel (3pm)
Belfast Giants vs GKS Katowice (7pm)