International Ice Hockey Federation

Japan loses and trembles

Japan loses and trembles

Hungary’s win promotes Austria

Published 27.04.2014 00:18 GMT+9 | Author Martin Merk
Japan loses and trembles
Hungary's Marton Vas scores one of his three goals in the penalty shootout on Japanese netminder Yuta Narisawa. Photo: Soohan Kim
Hungary concludes this year’s Division I with a 5-4 shootout win against Japan. The result brings Austria back to the top division while Japan can only hope.

Marton Vas scored three goals in the shootout and one in regulation time while Shuhei Kuji fell down during Japan’s last penalty shot.

“I didn’t forget what I was doing before. It’s a matter of confidence,” said the forward-turned-defenceman. “We started to play the way we were supposed to play the whole tournament and backchecked better.”

“Today’s game was really meaningless for us because we had nothing to prove in the sense of positioning but I do command and congratulate my players to play as hard as we could even if we did some costly mistakes before the fourth goal,” Hungary head coach Rich Chernomaz said. “Japan played a very disciplined game and tournament which gave them the opportunity to challenge for the top-two tonight and the game is never over until it’s over as it went to the last shot tonight.”

Hungary has now the chance to move up to fourth place in the final standings if Ukraine loses the last game to Korea. The Japanese could have earned promotion from their own force by beating Hungary but instead had to hope for an Austrian win against Slovenia.

For Japan it would have been the first time in history it had qualified for the top division through the Division I (or formerly B-Pool). Japan played in the top division after being invited in 1930, 1957 and being set as the Far East qualifier between 1998 and 2004.

“I’m very proud of my hockey team. They had a tremendous tournament and played with heart and soul and Japanese discipline. Whether we will be promoted or not is not in our control anymore. In the end of the day it was a good tournament for us,” Japan head coach Mark Mahon said.

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The Hungarians started the early minutes with more puck possession but the first time the Japanese were dangerous after less than three minutes of play they scored. Takeshi Saito surprised Hungarian netminder Zoltan Hetenyi by shooting the puck high from just a few centimetres before the goal line from the left side to open the scoring. This after a pass from his linemate Takuro Yamashita, who had won the battle at the end boards against Janos Hari with agile skating and moves.

In the ninth minute the Asians had another big chance with a quick Japanese-style counter-attack after a Daniel Koger giveaway but after Daisuke Obara’s side pass Seiji Takahashi’s shot just hit Hetenyi’s goalie pad.

At 17:29 Istvan Sofron, after a great cross-ice pass to the blueline from Marton Vas, suddenly had the gate to the net wide open and beat Yutaka Fukufuji with a shot into his five-hole.

The Hungarians started the second period with a man advantage after a penalty a few seconds before the first intermission. Istvan Bartalis scored his fifth goal of the tournament after 49 seconds to bring Hungary the 2-1 lead. Janos Vas sent a drop pass to him after Marton Vas’ shot had bounced back from the end boards.

The Japanese didn’t give up and concluded a quick rush with three-on-three players with the equalizer. At 6:50 Masahito Nishiwaki’s shot went in after a horizontal pass from Daisuke Obara. Four minutes later the Japanese had the lead back with a Hungarian penalty just expired and the Japanese continuing putting pressure on Hetenyi’s net. Shuhei Kuji beat Hetenyi, screened by Takuma Kawai, with a point shot.

But with 67 seconds left in the middle frame, Hungary’s first-line forwards hit the back of the net again. After Janos Hari’s drop pass Sofron scored his second marker of the day to enter the third period with a 3-3 score.

In the third period events came thick and fast for Japan. First goalkeeper Yutaka Fukufuji had to be replaced due to a knee injury at 8:42 by Yuta Narisawa whose only experience at this level came with three games at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A. And at 10:03 Seiji Takahashi was awarded a penalty shot after Tamas Groschl’s hooking but his weak shot was an easy catch for Hetenyi.

Four-and-a-half minutes later the Japanese eventually scored the lead. Takeshi Saito took out Tamas Pozsgai at the boards, Hiroki Ueno got the puck and beat Hetenyi between his legs for the 4-3 goal with 5:30 left in regulation time. With 3:36 left Japan coach Mark Mahon took a time-out to calm down his team for the final minutes. The Hungarians pushed for the fourth goal but they missed out on their chances as Japan did on a three-on-one counter attack until 66 seconds before the end of the third period and with Hetenyi pulled for a sixth skater.

A shot from the blueline from Marton Vas hit Narisawa and slid over the goal line behind the Japanese goalkeeper to tie the game again.

“It was a tough game for us. We needed three points but we didn’t play good enough. In the last minutes we needed to defend better,” Japanese captain Go Tanaka said.

“He didn’t play for a while and the guys played well in front of him. It’s unfortunate he gave up the last goal but that’s sport,” Mahon said on Narisawa.

After a goalless overtime period the shootout had to decide. Marton Vas became the man of the match with three goals on three penalty shots while Kuji missed the equalizer in the last round falling down after the blueline.

Game Winning Shots:
Round 1: Kuji 0-1, Hari save.
Round 2: Ueno save, Marton Vas 1-1.
Round 3: Tanaka save, Sofron save.
Round 4: Marton Vas 2-1, Obara 2-2.
Round 5: Marton Vas 3-2, Kuji miss.


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