Day 1: 2008 IHWC Div I B in Sapporo
Posted by simon c on 2008 April 14日 Monday
Opening day of the 2008 IHWC Division I Group B in Sapporo, Japan went as expected as the 3 favourites won handily over their weaker oppositions, controlling the play, as far as I can tell from the stats (no live TV coverage in the host country, shite). Japanese power play was extremely effective, scoring 4 goals, including one by Nishiwaki of the ECHL Dayton Bombers who just returned to Japan in time for the tournament and made his presence felt immediately.
SAPPORO, Japan – Ukraine swept over the promoted Croats in the tournament opener while Hungary had a narrow win against Estonia. Hosts Japan had a perfect start in the evening game with a 5-0 against Lithuania.
Lithuania – Japan 0-5 (0-4, 0-0, 0-1)
SOG: 19 – 31
PIM: 34 – 14
Japan wanted immediately to prove to their fans in the packed Sapporo Arena that the team has the ambition to compete with Ukraine and Hungary for promotion to the 2009 World Championship in Switzerland. The hosts scored four unanswered goals in a furious opening period and they never looked back. Although, never really of promotion calibre, Lithuania has recently proved to be a very difficult opponent for the best teams on this level, but they were fundamentally outplayed during the first 20 minutes, and also outshot 17-8.
Japan struck with goals approximately every fourth minute. After Yosuke Kon’s opener at 4:23, Masahito Nishiwaki (9:09) and Sho Sato (12:55) connected with power-play goals before Darcy Mitani finished the rampage at 18:02 with the 4-0 marker.
The middle stanza was scoreless despite several Japanese power-play opportunities after the Lithuanians showed some poor composure, taking slashing, boarding and roughing minors.
Ryuchi Kawai got his team’s third PP-goal early in the third to extinguish all hopes of a miraculous Lithuanian comeback. The Lithuanians continued to show frustration by taking bad penalties. Goaltender Nerijus Dauksevicius displayed the worst tempers when taking a 10-minute misconduct penalty (protesting an obvious call) with seven minutes left. Masahito Haruna got the shut-out, making 19 saves.
Estonia – Hungary 3-5 (1-2, 2-1, 0-2)
Croatia – Ukraine 0-4 (0-1, 0-1, 0-2)
Hungary – Estonia highlights including a beautiful open ice hip check.