Weekend Update - Asia League Edition

Weekend Update - Asia League Edition

15 Sep 2013 | Matthew Cross

Sangmu surprises Icebucks, Dragon get shafted, Halla wins the battle of Korea


Tuesday night there were a couple of mid-week games in the league. Swift put on a show in China and scored five goals as High1 picked up their third win over China with ease. the Cranes finished a three-game sweep of the Blades by putting them down on two goals from Obara. The weekend brought new opponents, and High1's first home game of the season.

They opted not to do the same kind of showy opening that Halla is known for, instead they brought some young players out on the ice with the team for the opening. It was nice to see some female players mixed in as well. A big crowd showed up for their opening game. The team tossed some free merchandise to their fan section. 


Cranes vs Dragon 13-0

In our shocker of the week, the Cranes managed to just scrape by the dragon 13-0. They didn't just beat Dragon, they might as well have just played with themselves. Dragon were outshot 69-8. The most stupefying thing of the entire game is how Kenta Takagi of the Cranes ended up with zero shots on net. To Sakai's credit he made 40 saves on 51 shots before being pulled, but they need to get some bodies in front of him.

Icebucks vs Sangmu 1-2

Sung-Je Park is helping Sangmu make an early statement in the league. They're not going to be pushovers. After defeating Halla in their second game, the team travelled quickly to Japan. With only two full lines, and a couple of spare forwards, they managed to defeat the Icebucks on their home turf. Won-jung and Woo-sang scored in the first for Sangmu and they held onto the lead until late in the third. The Icebucks finally got on the board with a goal from Tonosaki, but even after pulling the goalie they couldn't manage to tie it up. Sung-je showed his resolve as the team was out-shot 38-19.

High1 vs Halla 1-3

This saw the first meeting of the long-time Korean rivals. Despite heavy shooting in the first, it was the second period before the first goal was scored. High1 opened the scoring on a bit of a blooper from Halla. After taking time to setup behind the net, Halla looked to break out, but the puck was quickly stolen and fired into the net on a surprised Ho-sung by Tae-an. Halla didn't waste much time in tying it up as Kuk-hwan battered away at a puck in the skates of a High1 player, finally breaking free and scoring. Kuk-hwan may be easily underestimated as he's by far the smallest player on the team, but the effort and drive he puts into play may lend him to being compared to someone like Theo Flury. A couple of minutes later, a Halla player going for a change caught a bouncing puck on his skate and kicked it to Kuk-hwan who again took the puck in and scored on a quick play. Finally frustrated near the end of the game, High1 got into penalty trouble trying to tie it up. Young found himself in the box for nearly pulling Sang-jin's head off, and then Swift joined him after latching on to a Halla player's stick. He tried to dispute the call, but with both arms clearly wrapped around the stick and the Halla player comically lifting Swift several feet up and down off the ice, the referee wasn't buying his excuses. Halla out-shot High1 40 to 21. To their credit, despite a hotly contested game, the players didn't get overly chippy and everyone stayed to shake hands after the game.

*Kuk-hwan was the hero of Saturday night scoring the first two goals for Halla

The game was marred with ice issues. Due to the warm temperature in Korea, they had cooling issues and the ice was creating a lot of fog. They had to stop the game mid-way through the first and resurface some of the ice to get it under control. In the third, several areas remained too wet and again the Zamboni had to be called back out to go over part of the surface again. Dear Asia League, is there some reason we're starting in near August? Couldn't we get this going in October?


Cranes vs Dragon 6-3

After being thrashed the day before, China looked to show a little better effort on Sunday night. Goal-wise they delivered, but beyond that, not much. The Cranes still out-shot China 56-12. Somehow China managed 3 goals, including a short-handed one from Ling Chen. If they showed that kind of effort every game, they might have something to write home about. A little discipline, avoiding some of those penalties, and a lucky bounce or two and it could have been a very different game despite only managing 12 shots. If China can ever get everything firing on all cylinders at once, they could put together a competitive team.

Icebucks vs Sangmu 1-3

Sangmu is going to get a big head if this keeps up. With a reduced roster for the second night, and after continuing to be outshot, they managed to pull off another victory against the Bucks. Min-ho opened for Sangmu, but was quickly followed by Iimura for the Bucks. The game stayed even until the early third when Sang-woo gave them the lead again. The Bucks poured it on in the third, outshooting Sangmu 17-10, but Sung-je continued to show why Halla should have been starting him for the last two years and held them off. Note to Halla: Ho-sung/Sung-je double team in the future. Yong-jun Lee added an empty net with only a few seconds to go dashing all the hopes of the Bucks.

High1 vs Halla 1-5

Losing a home opener is a tough pill to swallow, and High1 showed the effects in the opening period. High1 came out charging, outshooting Halla 16-5, but had nothing to show for it. In the second it was Halla's turn to pour it on, and outshot High1 15-10, the difference being that Halla came out of it with two goals from Woo-je and Dimmen.

The third period saw some controversy. With a Halla player in the box, Swift took a delayed penalty for high sticking. Halla pulled their goalie and managed to get the puck down ice. As they attempted to pass the puck behind the net, a High1 player grabbed the puck for a couple of seconds. He clearly had control, but the referee didn't see it or didn't register it. They let the play continue, as the High1 bench yelled protestations, and a few seconds later Halla scored. There was a delay as they had absolutely no idea what to do. The referee seemed to realize he'd made a mistake, but uncalled, they had no way to go back. High1 protested heavily, but the call couldn't be changed.

This alone was bad enough, but in the second a delayed called against High1 was botched as well. As the referee raised his arm for a penalty and High1 had the puck for a significant amount of time, everyone assumed it was a Halla penalty. However, as the puck came to a Halla player, the play continued. At that point Halla realized it was a High1 penalty and pulled the goalie. Finally the puck went back to a High1 player, who held it for a couple seconds and finally a whistle was blown. I don't know, if it was his first day, or he had new contacts or what, but the League desperately needs to address officiating.

*Woo-je celebrates after scoring the first goal on Sunday night

It was of little consequence as 30 seconds after the controversial call Radunske walked in and drove a the fourth goal home. High1 finally got on the board with a goal from Hyeok Kim, but it made no difference as Young-jun scored for Halla and sealed their fate. High1 tried to tie it up, but were unable to beat Ho-sung who made several big saves. Even though High1 was rightfully upset about the third goal, and the aggressive play at the end, the teams finished without their usual brawl, and shook hands. This may the beginning of a kinder, gentler High1 and more gentlemanly rivalry.

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