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  • Posts Tagged ‘finals’

    Cranes Win! Seibu goes into history

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 26日 Thursday

    Monday 23 March 2009, Higashifushimi, Tokyo.

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    Game 7 of the 2009 Asia League Ice Hockey Finals. The full house witnessed history.

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    This was going to be the final game for the Seibu Prince Rabbits (formerly Kokudo and Seibu Railway hockey teams) no matter the team won or lost against the Nippon Paper Cranes. The two teams have been waging an epic battle for the championship with Seibu coming back from being down 1-3 in the series to force the deciding game.

    In fact, the Cranes themselves came back from being down 2-3 in their semifinals against Anyang Halla of Korea to reach the finals, and before that they dispatched the other Korean team in the league, High1, in the play-in round of the playoffs with a 2 game sweep (best of 3). Meanwhile, Seibu swept the semifinals against the Oji Eagles, but all games were decided by a 1 goal margin (excluding the empty netters).

    Game 7 started off quickly, like Game 6, on a Cranes goal as Darcy Mitani opened the game in the 4th minute with a power play tally. But unlike Game 6, the first period did not turn into a wild goalfest, and both teams played solidly, though not without chances.

    Crane (and former Seibu/Kokudo) Chris Yule sitting alone in the Cranes bench after the first period.

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    The Cranes added 2 more goals in the 2nd period and seemingly already wrote the end of the history for the Seibu hockey club. But captain Takahito Suzuki came out huge for Seibu as he scored with 4 seconds left in the period assisted by retiring Kiyoshi Fujita (thanks Ryan! you were the best player in the league for a long time, Theo Fleury of Japan in the best sense, and lots of fun to watch, you’ll be missed) and Daisuke Obara. This was a huge goal as going into the second intermission being 2 goals or 3 goals down makes a massive difference to team morale. 

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    In the third period, Seibu continued to pressure and kept on peppering the Cranes net with shots but Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa totally stood on his head as he saved 54 of 56 shots (!) on net to earn the victory and championship for the Cranes.

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    Congratulations, the 2009 champion Cranes! And thank you Seibu for all the memories! (and hopefully the team will survive in one form or another and elite level hockey will be played in Tokyo next season.)

    Playoff MVP Hisashi Ishikawa who backstopped the Cranes to the championship capped off by his herculean efforts in Game 7. Ishikawa played 14 of the Cranes 16 playoff games, and was a well deserving recepient of the award.

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    Joel Dyck Oshiro holding up the AL Championship trophy properly (that is, sideways)

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    More random photos and videos from the game follows this break:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    あと一球!… Japan Wins!!

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 25日 Wednesday

    So, Japan repeated as WBC champions despite manager Hara’s bumbling lineup and in-game decisions. What was double play machine Johjima doing hitting cleanup? Korea ended up avoiding Norichika Aoki (the best hitter in Japan) to pitch against Joh in several occasions. And what was jetlagged Kurihara doing in DH? Thankfully he was pulled as soon as Bong left the game. Hara also played the game like it was a high school baseball game, automatically trying to bunt over any runner on base with no outs, even if the bunter rarely, if ever, bunts, like Nakajima, Inaba, and Johjima (well, the latter may be forgiven because of the GIDP possibilities  😛 ) and they are more of power hitters usually. 

    Then Hara left superb starter (and should have been tournament MVP, though Dice-K got that probably for marketing reasons) Hisashi Iwakuma in one inning too long even though Japan was loaded with bullpen options with fresh arms. Iwakuma got out of the 7th inning by giving getting 3 big fly outs to the outfield. Iwakuma is a groundball pitcher, so obviously by this point in the game his pitches were hanging high and he had barely any juice left in the tank, and it showed when he came back onto the mound in the 8th. Hara also could have gone with Sugiuchi in the 9th as he had also been super during the tournament, not allowing runs in any of his appearances, and Darvish can be shaky when he first gets into the game (like Matsuzaka) like during the loss to Korea in Round 2. But Darvish is often electric so he can’t be faulted on this.

    So, Japan could’ve dominated (and it showed with all the runners LOB, Japan self-destructed time and again), but barely squeaked out the win. Maybe it was just all a ploy for Ichiro’s heroic game winning hit that drove in 2 runs? Ever the showman, everything was set up for Ichiro in the end  😛 (though the decision not to walk him with the 1st base open with 2 outs was puzzling, Ichiro kept on fouling off every pitch, even obvious balls, in typical Ichiro fashion until he got a pitch he liked, in the finals, he was zoned in. He wasn’t gonna be semi-intentionally walked.)

    Anyways, I watched the game with friends including Deanna at a sports bar in the bustling Shinjuku district. The bar was absolutely full, some people were wearing suits obviously skipping work (though, probably the whole country was at a standstill, especially in the late innings) and some fans also had old school Daiei and Kintetsu (Nori Nakamura!) unis on, which was awesome. Here’s the video from the game winning moment when Darvish struck out the last Korean hitter.

    PS This turned out to be a fantastic heart wrenching rubber match of a 5 game Japan-Korea series.. but if the organizers would just remove the meaningless seeding games at the end of rounds 1 and 2, this would’ve only have been the 3rd meeting between the teams, which would’ve been acceptable. Instead Japan played Korea 5 times, Cuba twice, and China and the US once in this World Baseball Classic. I’d like to see each team play a wider variety of opponents.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, MLB, NPB, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2009 AL Finals Game 6

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 23日 Monday

    The Seibu Prince Rabbits, in their final season of existance, were down 1-3 in the Asia League Ice Hockey Finals against rivals Nippon Paper Cranes. Facing elimination and in front of the Cranes fans of Kushiro, Hokkaido, the team pulled through with a 7-4 win to bring the series back to Tokyo. Seibu eradicated their scoring draught which only saw them score 4 goals in the 3 straight losses in the previous 3 games.

    Then yesterday was another do or die game for Seibu, as the Cranes were ready to clinch the AL championship in Tokyo.

    The game started off chippy with 10 penalties being called in the 1st period, and it was a wild beginning too with 5 goals being scored as Seibu took a 3-2 lead heading into the first intermission. Seibu’s first goal was a nifty wraparound/bounce off goalie’s leg goal by Obara. And Prpic and Rochefort’s power play goals were perfectly executed with the players set up in the slot with passes from the goal line.

    We were expecting a high scoring and a rough game based on the first period (much like the first game of the series), however things calmed down in the second and the game became a tight affair. Chris Yule, of long time Kokudo/Seibu fame, tied the game in the middle of the second with a power play goal. And the game became deadlocked even though speedy Seibu forwards created many scoring opportunities by blowing past (or trying to) Cranes defencemen. They also managed to hit the post with a shot on one play.

    But, as things were increasingly looking like they were heading to the NHL style endless overtime (20 minute periods, sudden death), Chris Yule took a fatal tripping penalty with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation. This gave Seibu a crucial power play at the end of regulation, and with less than 1 minute to go, captain Takahito Suzuki took the puck from the neutral zone, flew past a Cranes defenceman, neatly tucked the puck in to avoid goalie Ishikawa’s poke check and deked him out at the same time and put the puck in the net for what proved to be the game winner. Seibu 4 – 3 Cranes!

    The Seibu Prince Rabbits club survived to see one more day, and today is the deciding Game 7 of the Asia League Ice Hockey 2009 Finals at Higashifushimi, Tokyo. Seibu has the chance to finish their history with an exclamation mark tonight at 7pm.

    Some photos and videos from the game.

    Seibu wins!

    Cranes fans also brought their big flag, this one saying 最強 (saikyou = strongest) which looks way more badass than the Rabbit logo adorned Seibu flag.

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    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Asia League Finals

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 17日 Tuesday

    Games 1 and 2 of the 2009 Asia League Finals was held in Higashifushimi, Tokyo on Friday and Saturday. The Nippon Paper Cranes won the opener 4-2 in a chippy game that saw 3 players suspended for game 2. Then the Seibu Prince Rabbits came right back to win the second game 3-2 in a close but clean game. The two teams are now in Hokkaido for games 3-5. Chances of either team sweeping the next three games is pretty slim as the teams are evenly matched, so the closing chapter of the Seibu/Kokudo team should be played out back in Higashifushimi with game 6 on Sunday 22 March at 5pm and game 7 on Mon 23 March (if necessary).

    Some pictures from game 1.

    Longish queue to get into the arena before the doors opened.

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    These big Seibu player boards outside Higashifushimi will be gone next season.

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    Seibu fans made a big Rabbits sign.. umm.. intimidating 😛  Someone else has a handmade Joel Prpic sign as well

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    Canadian born Japanese national team player Darcy Mitani with his funky knob

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    Seibu scores!

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    Someone on the Cranes likes huge knobs

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    One of the skirmishes near the end of the game

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    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

    Oji wins 2008 AL Finals!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 20日 Thursday

    Congratulations to Oji Paper Ice Hockey Team, the 2008 Asia League Ice Hockey champions!

    3rd place finisher in the regular season, Oji convincingly won the championship, going undefeated in the playoffs reeling off 9 straight victories. Oji let in 2 or less goals in every game but 1 (the 10-5 shootout semifinal win over High1). Goalie Haruna was outstanding throughout the playoffs, and it was no different in the deciding game as he stopped 33 of 35 Cranes shots in the 3-2 win. With a 1.89 GAA, only allowing 17 goals on 221 SOG for a very solid 92.3% save percentage, he probably deserves the finals and playoff MVPs. He outplayed McLennan in the finals, Jamie had been having an excellent playoffs up until that point with a 92% save percentage going into the finals and he had singlehandedly won games for the Cranes, but in the end Haruna was the man.

    This was the first AL championship for Oji (every final before this year featured the Cranes v. Seibu/Kokudo), and the last time Oji won the league was the Japan Ice Hockey League way back in 1994. Congrats Oji!

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »