Before the game, few thought the Netherlands had much of a chance to beat China but they did more than that, running away with a 7-2 decision that could have big implications on the races for both promotion and relegation. That score was despite a 40-16 advantage in shots for China, but the Dutch were very opportunistic and capitalized on several Chinese miscues.
“Great game by the guys,” said Dutch goalie Ruud Leeuwesteijn. “We played so well defensively, I don’t think they had too many scoring chances. There were a lot of shots from the outside. Everybody could have been ‘Best Player’ this game. We really deserved the win today.”
“We had some breakdowns and they capitalized – I think they had three breakaways,” An Jian (Cory Kane) explained. “Credit to their guys. They bared down when they had their chances, their goalie played really well, they played good team defence and we couldn’t find a way to finish.”
Both of these teams were promoted from Division II, with China winning 5-1 in their matchup last year in Zagreb.
China outshot the Netherlands 15-4 in the opening period but the Dutch scored on three of them, with Ties van Soest netting the first two.
The Dutch got a lucky bounce on the first goal, as van Soest circled the net and took a shot that went through the legs of one Chinese player, then hit the upper leg of another before bouncing into the net. Less than three minutes later they made it 2-0 on the rush, with van Tiest getting in behind the Chinese defence and went to the net as Jay de Ruiter found his stick with a pass.
“Obviously they were really important,” van Soest said about the goals. “We all knew we had a chance before the game but when you go 2-0 up you’re like, ‘(Crap), we could actually win this game today!’ From that moment on, I think everyone just bought in and played a really good game today.”
Then the Netherlands got an extended power play as Ye Jinguang (Brandon Yip) was given a double-minor for high-sticking. China almost killed if off but with 27 seconds left in the power play, Mike Collard curled in from the boards and released a shot that Yongli Ouban (Paris O'Brien) thought he had, but just got through him and dribbled over the line.
Early in the second period, two Dutch penalties four seconds apart gave China a 5-on-3 for almost two full minutes. China got some chances – the best of which was Ye hitting the goalpost on a one-timer – but the Dutch killed them off. Then at 32:07, Kilian van Gorp scored on a breakaway to make it 4-0.
A minute later, China finally got on the scoreboard when a wrist shot from the high slot by Fu Shuai (Parker Foo) beat Leeuwesteijn over the shoulder. China kept the pressure up and on the power play with 1:39 left in the middle frame, Jian deflected a point shot by Kailiaosi Jieke (Jake Chelios) to make it a two-goal game.
However, whatever momentum that was gained by China was lost in the last 90 seconds of the period when the Dutch scored twice more on breakaways. First it was Olaf-Jan Schoningh just nine seconds after Jian’s goal, and then after Ouban was lifted in favour of Zehao Sun, the new Chinese goalie was beaten on the first shot he faced by Guus van Nes.
If there was any doubt about the outcome, it was erased when Diego Hofland scored right off an attacking-zone faceoff win by van Nes with 7:34 to play to close out the scoring.
“Our goal at the start of the tournament was to stay in this group,” said Leeuwesteijn. “We have two more big games after this one and if we continue to play well, who knows, maybe we can start to look up in the standings.”