Japan shines in WC debut

Japan shines in WC debut

Davide Tuniz23 Apr 2017Davide Tuniz»

After the unexpected relegation, Japan begin the journey to Division Ia with a convincing victory


Netherlands and Japan come to Belfast to open the World Championship Division IB from opposite directions: Japan after a painful relegation from Division I, Netherlands from a prompt recover after the tumble in Division II.

After a light and dark season, with a good Olympic Qualification and a awful Asian Winter Games campaign, Japan needs to prove its level doesn’t belong to a Division Ib, while Netherlands, with a mixing of veterans and fresh legs in the roster will probably fight to stay in the Division.

The game begins vey confusing, with a lot of inaccuracy on the ice and no chances until minute five, when Hiroto Sato decides to become undeniable for Dutch defence, skating towards Fabian Schotel to open the score. Netherlands has a chance to equalize with Gus Van Nes when his deflection remains between the leg of goalie Fukufuji before the second goal of Japan, scored by Kenta Takagi after a rebound on Makuru Furuhashi shot: the puck, deflected by Schotel rears up and Takagi is rapid to get in the net. At the last gasp of first period Nick Verschuren manages to miss an incredible opportunity, firing on the post with the cage wide open.

Japan triple the score after four minutes in the central period with the collaboration of goalie Schotel, not perfect on Makuru Furuhashi shot. Completely controlling the game, Daisuke Obara closed the question at 32:31 finishing a 3 vs 1 counterattack, netting a pass from Hiroki Ueno. One minute after Schotel has a extra work rebounding on three close-range shots. Netherlands capitalizes one of few scoring chances at 37:02 on power play, when Steve Mason find the right hole to beat Fukufuji. The dream of an impossible comeback is frustrated at 41:39: after a previous chance stopped by goalie, Daisuke Obara scores the fifth goal for Japan. After a brilliant save by Fukufuji on Van Bentem, another lethal counterattack let Hiroki Ueno score goal number six sealing a convincing performance by one of the tournament favourites

MVP: Steve Mason – Yukata Fukufuji

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