Posted by simon c on 2009 March 9日 Monday
The new team Tohoku Free Blades who are aiming to join the Asia League starting next season played another exhibition game recently. The team is still undermanned and its 5 defencemen and 7 forwards hung on but lost 6-4 to western Japan powerhouse amateur team Surpass Kagawa. Once the team’s status on joining the Asia League becomes clear, the team is likely to sign the rest of the players to fill out its roster (some imports will be needed to be competitive in the AL).
Eri Kiribuchi’s dad made the trip from Prague to be at Harbin for the Universiad where Eri made her debut with the Japanese national team. He has uploaded a bunch of video segments to Youtube. They’re not just Japan-centric, but Eri-centric as the camera never leaves the goalie 😛
And last but not least, the Nippon Paper Cranes pulled the rug from under Anyang Halla’s feet. The Cranes were down 3-2 in the semifinals with the series heading back to Anyang, Korea with Halla only needing to win one game to become the first non-Japanese team to advance to the Asia League finals. But the Cranes managed a gutsy OT win in game 6, followed by another 3-2 win in game 7, this time in regulation time.
The Cranes will meet the Seibu Prince Rabbits in the finals which will begin on the 13th with games 1 and 2 in Higashifushimi, Tokyo at the Dydo Drinco Arena (Higashifushimi Station on the Seibu-Shinjuku train line). Game 1 on Friday should start at 7pm and game 2 on Saturday at 2pm. Games 3 through 5 will be in Kushiro, Hokkaido. And game 6 will be on the afternoon of Sunday 22 March, and game 7 on the following evening if necessary. The Rabbits are looking to go out on top as the team won the All-Japan Championship tournament earlier in the year, and the club will fold after this season if no buyer is found (and in this economy, it looks unlikely. Luckily it looks like the Blades will replace the Rabbits in the league.)
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: 2009, china, cranes, eri, free blades, freeblades, harbin, kagawa, kiribuchi, nippon paper, prince rabbits, seibu, surpass, tohoku, universiad | Leave a Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2009 February 20日 Friday
The best-of-3 play-in round between 4th place Nippon Paper Cranes and High1 finished in a blowout for the Cranes, sweeping the series with 5-2 and 8-4 wins. Now the semifinals pits the rested Anyang Halla (the first non-Japanese team to top the regular season standings) against the battle worn Cranes, and soon to fold Seibu Prince Rabbits against the Oji Eagles. They both should be dandy series, and with the balanced schedule this past season, Halla’s record is for real and I’m looking for them progressing to the finals! (And for Seibu to have its last hurrah in addition to them winning the 2009 All Japan Championship in an exciting 6-5 final against the Cranes.)
In other Japanese hockey news, with the Seibu group officially pulling the plug on its hockey team, there will be a memorial alumni game to be held at the DyDo Drinco Arena in Higashifushimi, Tokyo, on 28 March. The match should feature Kokudo and Seibu Railway legends such as the Wakabayashi brothers, Herb and Mel.
And in Harbin 2009 Universiade news, Japan won 3-2 over China, with Eri Kiribuchi notching her first win turning aside 26 of 28 shots in a much better performance from the previous day’s game where she allowed 4 goals on 23 shots against Finland in a shutout loss. Without playing any official games this season, she seems to have secured the starter’s position on Team Japan, way to go Eri! The men were lucklustre in their 1-4 loss to Slovakia on their opening game of the tournament.
And finally, the newly formed Tohoku Free Blades is going to ice a team for the first time in the next few weeks. First an exhibition match (three 15 minute periods) against the Nikko IceBucks of the Asia League on the Bucks’ fan appreciation day on 11am 28 February at the Nikko Kirifuri Arena. This event will cost 1000 yen and it will be a good measure to see if the team can be competitive in the Asia League. The Blades will also be making an appearance (normal rules) against western Japan amateur powerhouse Surpass Kagawa at 8pm 6 March in Miki City, Kagawa Surpass Sports Center Arena. Let’s hope this helps Blades pass the muster to enter the Asia League, as the uncertain future of Seibu means that a new Japanese team in the league will be a much needed infusion.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, Japan, JIHF, opinion, statistics, tokyo | Tagged: alumni, anabuki, china, cranes, eagles, eri, finland, free blades, goalie, High1, Ice Bucks, icebucks, kagawa, kiribuchi, Kokudo, miki, nikko, nippon paper, Oji, playoff, playoffs, prince rabbits, railway, seibu, slovakia, surpass, tohoku, universiade | Leave a Comment »