International Ice Hockey Federation

Austria comes back

Austria comes back

Second win from behind for eagles

Published 21.04.2014 15:11 GMT+9 | Author Martin Merk
Austria comes back
The Japanese lose a battle for the puck against Austria. Photo: Kim Soohan
Austria had to come from behind again against Japan like the day before against Ukraine but it got the win it wanted, this time after 60 minutes, 4-1.

After a weak start the Austrians improved in the second and third period to turn down a Japanese miracle.

Some of the players know how it is to lose against the Asians. Two years ago in the Division I Group A tournament in Ljubljana, Japan had its first win against Austria in 33 years and in the beginning it seemed like the Japanese would be ready for another upset after scoring a historic win against Slovenia the day before.

After just over five minutes of play in the game, the Japanese players won the battles at the end boards and Takeshi Saito sent a drop pass to Takuro Yamashita, who scored with a perfect shot from the left face-off circle at 5:29.

The 1-0 score remained until the end of a first period, in which Austria outshot Japan 14-11 but allowed the Asians the better scoring opportunities.

“The game was like expected. The Japanese are fast, skate a lot and they had a good start,” said Austrian goalkeeper Bernhard Starkbaum, who was selected as best player of his team. “We were getting better throughout the game and capitalized on our chances in the third period. We have learned a lot since the last game [two years ago] and earned the victory thanks to our team spirit.”

Austria came out more determined for the second period and when Masahito Nishiwaki was sent to the penalty box for slashing against Konstantin Komarek, the Austrians got the chance to search for the game-tying goal. The Austrians didn’t capitalize on it but Stefan Geier scored at 5:10, after the penalty’s expiration. Japan’s Aaron Keller lost the puck to Geier in his own zone and the Austrian accepted the invitation to score with a wraparound.

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Late in the middle frame Austria’s Stefan Bacher hooked Go Tanaka on a breakaway at 17:17 and offered Japan the chance to regain the lead. A group of ten Austrian fans was loudly cheering on Starkbaum and the Austrian goalkeeper won the penalty duel against Tanaka with a glove save down on the ice after Tanaka’s attempted deke.

For the Japanese it came worse because they had one player too much on the ice and with Seiji Takahashi in the penalty box the Austrians had the chance to gain the lead. During the power play Shun Sakata had to go out for hooking but the Japanese defence stood strong and survived the penalty trouble at the end of the second and the beginning of the third period.

However, after 4:13 in the final frame the Austrians eventually managed to gain the lead for the first time in this game. After a deflected horizontal pass, Thomas Hundertpfund got the puck between the face-off circle and caught Japanese goalkeeper Yutaka Fukufuji on his glove side for the 2-1 goal.

The situation didn’t improve when Kenta Takagi checked Stefan Geier into the boards from behind, offering the Austrians another power play. Mario Altmann capitalized on the opportunity with a laser of a shot from the blueline to extend the lead to 3-1. Brian Lebler made everything clear with a shot into the empty Japanese net with 66 seconds remaining on the match clock.

“Austria has size and skill and they dominated us at times,” said Japan head coach Mark Mahon. “They forced us to take penalties and deserved the victory.”


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