Japanese girls impress in Division I
by Szabolcs Zavodszky|10 APR 2022
Japanese players celebrate with their gold medal and trophy after winning all games of the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Group A.
photo: 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Group A
The Japanese U18 women’s national team pulled off a stunning dominance at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Group A as they went undefeated and unscored upon in five games in their quest for a return to the top level.

Japan’s Head Coach Yujiro Kasahara was expecting to win but what was the hardest part of the tournament was interesting. “The most difficult thing for us was that we were not really able to play any other countries before the World Championships,” he said. Despite this it didn't look like this was an issue for the Asian nation.

Japan outscored its opponents 26-0 in four games.

The tournament opened up with a double-header as Japan took on France in the early game and host nation Hungary played Norway in the second game of the opening day. Japan jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes as they took advantage of their first power play of the game on a goal by Reina Sato with Riri Noro scoring an even strength goal later in the period. Late in the second Shimomukai found the back of the net to make it 3-0. Riko Kawaguchi would go the distance for the shutout win. This first game of the tournament turned out to be the one between the tournament winner and the eventual silver medallist.
Japan vs. France - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship Division I Group A
JPN FRA 04 APR 2022
In the second game Hungary jumped off to a 3-0 lead after the first period. Regina Metzler opened up the scoring with a shorthanded goal after a give and go with Luca Marton. Hungary was able to pin Norway deep in their own end, Konz threw a shot on net, after a scuffle in front of the goal, Milibak was credited with making it 2-0. Later in the period Metzler made it 3-0 by using a Norwegian player as a screen. The Hungarian goals kept on coming in the second period as Gondos made it 4-0 with a power-play goal and Metzler was left all alone in the slot to complete her hattrick and score the fifth Hungarian goal. Norway broke the Hungarian shutout in the third period on a shorthanded goal by Ask Sikke Vasshus, but minutes later Metzler scored her fourth of the game on the power play to put Hungary back up by five. In the closing minutes of the game the youngest player on the team, Bahiczki-Toth, set the final score at 7-1.

Day 2 of the five-team tournaemnt only had one game as Italy played its first one against Norway. Italy jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead as they found the back of the net twice in a span of 83 seconds. Matilde Fantin opened up the scoring as she put in a close range rebound on a two skater advantage. Agata Muraro doubled the lead by slinging a long shot on net that went in for the power play goal. After killing four penalties in the second period, Italy was unable to get out of the fifth short handed situation as Sara Svendsen put a long shot on net from outside the blueline but somehow it made it past the Italian goalie to make it a one goal game. The score remained unchanged until deep into the third period as Gina Brevik Kristiansen tied the game up with a shot from the slot. The teams finished tied at 2-2, after a scoreless overtime the game was decided in a shootout. The game came down to the final Italian shooter, Manuela Heidenberger, as Italian goalie Ilaira Girardi stopped all five Norwegian shooters. Heidenberger slipped the puck past Johansen for the Italian win.

The third game day started off with Japan taking on Italy, the eventual bronze medallist. After a scoreless first period Japan opened up the scoring in the opening minutes of the second period as Hina Shimomukai took a pass from Riko Matsumoto sliced through the Italian defence and slipped it past the goalie. The score remained unchanged as neither team was able to capitalize on their power plays. Japan pulled away in the third period as they scored twice on goals by Minami Kamada and Makoto Ito. Ririna Takenaka went the distance for the shutout win.

In the late game host nation Hungary took on France. France opened up the scoring when they took advantage of their first power play as Jade Barbirati scored from just inside of the blueline. France doubled the lead in the second period when Chloe Gentien scored off of a screened shot from the slot. Minutes later Barbirati scored her second goal of the game to make it 3-0. With just under ten minutes to go in the game Hungary got on the scoreboard on a goal by Regina Metzler, soon after Boglarka Bahiczki-Toth made it a one goal game. Hungary pulled their goalie with ten seconds left in the game but didn’t manage to tie the game.

The only game that was played on the fourth day was Norway taking on Japan. This one turned out to be very lopsided as Japan would win 13-0. Japan had a 3-0 lead after the opening frame. Finding the back of the net were Kamada, Ito and Riri Noro. Japan kept up the prolific scoring pace into the second period as they scored seven goals. Norway switched goalies after the seventh goal. Japan ended up scoring three goals in the final period with Takenaka getting the shutout win. Kamada and Shimomukai finished with five points each.

The penultimate game day had two games with France playing Norway in the first game. Kajsa Braten opened up the scoring for Norway with a nice individual effort. Less than a minute later Chloe Gentien tied the game up at 1-1 when she put in a rebound from close range. France would score two more even-strength goals late in the first period as Jade Barbirati converted on a centering pass and Manon Le Scondan redirected a shot. After a scoreless penalty Norway scored with just over ten minutes left in the game. Braten scored her second goal of the game to bring Norway within one goal. However, in the end Norway was not able to force overtime.

In the late game Hungary took on Italy. Hungary killed two penalties in a scoreless opening frame. In the second period Italy opened the scoring with a power-play marker from Saskia Rohregger. The score remained unchanged until the opening minutes of the third period as Hungary was able to tie the game at 1-1 on an even strength-goal by Boglarka Koncz. Neither team was able to put the puck past the opposing goalie during the rest of regulation. After a scoreless overtime period the game went to a shootout where Italy only needed three shooters as Rindone and Fantine put the puck past the Hungarian goalie for the win.

The final game day opened up with Italy playing France, with the winner taking the silver medal. After a scoreless first period Innocenti opened up the scoring for Italy with an even strength goal. Italy doubled their lead when Fantin scored a short handed goal to make it 2-0, however, minutes later Barbirati cut the Italian lead in half as France was able to score on a two-player advantage. The excitement picked up in the third period as La Scodan tied the game up at two goals a piece. With the game all tied up, the two teams headed to overtime. The extra period did not last long as 15 seconds into overtime Barbirati scored her second of the game and the game winner.

The final game of the tournament had Japan, who had already clinched gold taking on the host nation Hungary. Japan continued their dominant performance as they scored three goals in the opening period with Kishibe, Riri Noro, Shimomukai and Kamada all finding the back of the net. Reina Sato made it 5-0 early in the second period. At the midway point of the game Hungary switched goalies as Revesz was replaced by Szabo. Sato would score her second goal of the game before the period was over to make it 6-0. Shimomukai would set the final score at 7-0.

“We were not expecting to dominate as we did. Everything just worked out perfectly for us.” said Yujiro Kasahara once the tournament came to an end.
2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship Division I Group A