China 1 vs. Japan 4-2 (1-0, 2-1, 1-1)
QIQIHAR, China – Host China enters the gold medal game of the 2012 IIHF Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia as the first-ranked team of round-robin play after defeating Japan 4-2.
Bad news already came in before the game for the Japanese. Six players fell sick with an abdominal influenza, which allowed Japan to only dress one goalkeeper and nine skaters for the game for first place against China.
In front of a home crowd of 2,012 fans the Chinese played passionate and skilled hockey. They tried to capitalize on the situation and outshot Japan 11-3 in the first period. Minghui Kong scored the lead at 11:49 and Nan Wang made it 2-0 17 second into the second period.
China’s win seemed to be sealed when Haijing Huang scored the third goal at 12:57 of the middle period, but Tomo Eguchi cut the lead half a minute later, and with 6:42 left in regulation time Japan was trailing by only one goal thanks to Haruka Toko’s marker. Three minutes later Xin Fang scored the 4-2 goal for China.
It could be seen in the eyes of the players that the game for Asian supremacy meant much to them. Tomorrow the teams will face each other again for the gold medal game.
Korea vs. China 2 3-4 (0-0, 2-0, 1-3, 0-0, 0-1) PS
China 2, a junior national team from the country of the middle, got its first win against Korea, a nation ranked 28th in the women’s hockey program.
Both sides wanted to grab their first victory of the event, but the Chinese played smarter and won thanks to their big effort in the end after trailing from a two-goal deficit.
After China 2 had outplayed the Koreans in a scoreless first period, it was the Koreans who scored two goals from Kyousun Lee and Soojin Han in the second.
The Chinese bounced back with a power-play marker from Xue Jiang early in the third period. Jongah Park restored the two-goal lead on a 5-on-3, but the Chinese made it 4-4 with two more goals from Mingran Yang and Jingwen Ju. Jiang scored the only goal in the shootout to claim the win.
Korean goalkeeper Sojung Shin had to be replaced due to injury midway through the game, but Dohee Han also made key saves to keep her team in the race.
Both teams will meet again tomorrow for the bronze medal game.
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HARALD SPRINGFELD (Qiqihar)
MARTIN MERK (Zurich)