China 1 – China 2 12 - 0 (5 - 0, 5 - 0, 2 - 0)
QIQIHAR, China – The 2012 IIHF Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia in Qiqihar, China kicked off with a game between the two host teams. Unsurprisingly, it was the China 1 senior team who came out with a 12-0 victory over their junior counterparts.
For development purposes, China as the host is participating with two teams in this tournament. China 1 is composed of senior players under the guidance of Russian coach Mikhail Chekanov.
The China 2 squad is a junior team made up of players mostly born in 1995 and 1996. These players hail come from club teams around Qiqihar and Harbin, the two main ice hockey centres in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province. The inclusion of a junior and senior team provides the opportunity for more Chinese players to gain firsthand experience at an international tournament.
The game itself was dominated by the China 1 seniors, who jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first period, scoring a trio of goals in the first four minutes. Haijing Huang, Yin Fang, and Rui Ma each had three points in the game, and captain Baiwei Yu scored a goal and an assist to help the senior to the 12-0 win.
But “The Next” generation of Chinese players showed a lot of effort and engagement during the whole game. The juniors were also credited for their skill and tactical knowledge, and played with the sizeable support from the large number of hockey fans in the stands. They will play their next game on Thursday against Japan, while China 1 will go up against Korea that same day.
Japan – Korea 6 – 1 (2 - 0, 2 - 1, 2 - 0)
With a 6-1 win against Korea the Japanese team jumped on the top of the ranking for the first day of the Women`s Challenge Cup thanks to a pair of goals from forward Haruka Toko.
Both teams came out playing cautiously, until Japanese captain Chiho Osawa broke the deadlock midway through the first period. Another goal by Japan made it 2-0 and gave the team some security in their game.
Aside from Toko, who was chosen as the Best Player of the game for Japan, linemate Fuka Ishiura chipped in with a goal and an assist, along with Saki Shimozama (two assists) and Osawa with a second marker in the third period.
While the Korean offence couldn’t get much going aside from a second period power play goal from Jaeyeon Han, the star on the Korean side was goaltender Sojung Shin. Despite allowing six goals in the game, Shin made 60 saves on the Japanese and was chosen the Best Player for Team Korea, drawing praise from her opponent’s head coach.
“We didn’t play bad but the goaltending was very good,” said Japan head coach Yuji Iizuka. “We had many chances but we didn’t score that much.”
Click here for scores and stats.
HARALD SPRINGFELD (Qiqihar)
ADAM STEISS (Zurich)