Japan starts season with wins
by Martin Merk|13 NOV 2018
Estonia and Japan will meet again at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Tallinn.
photo: Sarunas Mazeika
Four teams that will compete in the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in the Estonian capital of Tallinn were playing during the November International Break at tournaments of the European Ice Hockey Challenge.

Three of these teams played at the Baltic Challenge Cup in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Japan had the best performance of these teams by winning its group before finishing the event in second place.

In the first game Japan lost to Lithuania in a shootout. Tetsuya Saito opened the scoring in the first period but the Lithuanians came back and held a 2-1 lead until late in the game. With 6-on-4 players in the last minute the Japanese tied it up thanks to Ryo Omiya’s goal with 33 seconds left in regulation time. Lithuania won the shootout with only one player scoring during four rounds.

However, Japan came back into the tournament with a 5-1 win over Belarus’ B-team. Junya Yamada (2 goals), Kazuma Iwamoto, Shigeki Hitosato and Go Tanaka scored for Japan, which finished the group in first place. In the final the Japanese lost 3-0 to Latvia’s B-team, a selection of players from the domestic league.

Romania had a strong start into the tournament by beating Division IB rival Estonia 7-3 in the first game. Kevin Parras tied Romania’s lead from Peter Balazs but after that Romania skated away. Fodor Csanad and Eduard Casaneanu scored two goals within a span of 95 seconds. Estonia cut the deficit with a Jaan Sorokin marker nine seconds into the third period but Romania replied with goals from Gergo Biro and Andrei Vasile scored within a span of 15 seconds. In the end Romania won 7-3, finished the group in second place and the tournament fourth overall after losing the third-place game to Belarus B 4-3. Daniel Tranga, Roberto Gliga and Mircea Constantin gave Romania a 3-0 lead after 42 minutes of play but the Belarusians managed the turnaround with four unanswered goals in the last period.

After losses to Latvia B (4-1) despite Robert Rooba’s game-tying goal and to Romania, the Estonians finished the group in last place and played the fifth-place game against Baltic rival Lithuania. The host team had a 2-0 first-period lead and scored the third goal early in the second before Robert Arrak brought Estonia on the scoreboard at 5:22. With 24 seconds left Artemi Aleksandrov cut the deficit to 3-2. Lithuania decided the game with three goals in the third period before Rooba scored for the final score of 6-3.

Poland was the fourth team from the Division I Group B on ice during the November break by hosting a Euro Ice Hockey Challenge tournament in Gdansk during the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the restoration of independence.

Playing against three top-level countries, the hosts were held winless. The first game against Denmark had to be cancelled due to issues with the ice. In the second game Norway skated to a 3-0 lead midway the game before Dominik Pas and Bartlomiej Neupauer scored for Poland. Eventually Norway won 4-2. In the last game Poland lost 2-0 to Austria after conceding two goals in the middle frame.


Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Poland
9 Nov.   Gdansk (POL)   Austria   Norway   cancelled
9 Nov.   Gdansk (POL)   Poland   Denmark   cancelled
10 Nov.   Gdansk (POL)   Denmark   Austria   1-2 OT
10 Nov.   Gdansk (POL)   Poland   Norway   2-4
11 Nov.   Gdansk (POL)   Norway   Denmark   0-1  
11 Nov.   Gdansk (POL)   Poland   Austria   0-2
Standings: 1. Austria 5, 2. Denmark 4, 3. Norway 3, 4. Poland 0.
Baltic Challenge Cup in Lithuania
8 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Latvia B   Estonia   4-1
8 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Lithuania   Japan   3-2 SO
9 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Estonia   Romania   3-7
9 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Belarus B   Japan   1-5
10 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Romania   Latvia B   1-2
10 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Lithuania   Belarus B   0-1
11 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Romania   Belarus B   3-4
11 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Latvia B   Japan   3-0
11 Nov.   Vilnius (LTU)   Lithuania   Estonia   6-3
Standings: 1. Latvia B, 2. Japan, 3. Belarus B, 4. Romania, 5. Lithuania, 6. Estonia.