China – Japan 1-3 (0-1, 1-0, 0-2) / Game Sheet
The final was looking to become a traditional China vs. Japan battle for the second edition of the top women’s event in Asia.
Having had a strong finish the day before, the Japanese team started the game strong and tried to keep the pressure on China’s end. With three power-play opportunities within the first 12 minutes of play, Japan was able to create most of the scoring chances of the game while they didn’t allow China many attacks until the end of the period. It seemed that neither team would be able to score, but at 19:36 it was Chiho Osawa, the directorate’s MVP choice, who was left alone in front of the net. She deflected the puck past China goalkeeper Han Danni following a pass from Ami Nakamura.
China came to the second period with a vengeance using its top guns to get back to the game. At 22:54, the efforts paid off when Zhang Shuang scored into the top corner with a fierce wrist shot from the blueline after a drop pass from Qi Xuetin. For the rest of the period the game went from one end to the other and both teams played for the tournament win with passion. With good scoring chances at both ends, both Han Danni and Azusa Nakaoku had their hands full of work.
In the beginning of the third period, the Japanese got an excellent opportunity to get their hands on the winner’s plate playing almost full two minutes with five vs. three skaters on the ice. Japan was without success on that power play, but it used its chance at equal strength when the directorate’s best forward choice, Saki Shimozawa, finished a two-on-one rush after an assist from Yuka Hirano at 49:05 to make it 2-1 for Japan. Hopes for China seemed to run out at 56:09 when Ami Nakamura extended the lead for Japan though the traffic in front of the net. Outshooting the opponent 50-27 in the game, the score remained 3-1 and Japan claimed the title successfully on home ice.
Photos: Maki Ikeda