By Japan Times
A drained South Korea fell 1-0 to Kazakhstan to suffer its second straight tough loss in the Asian Winter Games women’s ice hockey tournament Tuesday.
In the evening’s final affair, Japan beat Hong Kong 46-0, an Asian Games record for most goals scored in a single game. China set the previous mark in 2003 with 30 against South Korea.
Smile Japan, which booked a spot in the Pyeongchang Games, hammered a team whose starting lineup included a 15-year-old, a 39-year-old and a 42-year-old.
It took Ami Nakamura just 33 seconds to score her team’s first goal and the rout was on.
“We try to skate and execute regardless of the level of our opponent,” Japan head coach Takeshi Yamakawa said. “I liked the Hong Kong players’ spirit. Even after they conceded a goal, they skated hard back to their bench and kept cheering on their teammates.”
The women will have Wednesday off, when the four-team men’s top division takes the ice for their opening games.
Earlier, the South Koreans squandered five power-play opportunities in an afternoon match, after an exhausting 3-0 loss to Japan late on Monday night.
“It was a difficult game because of all the penalties, but we were prepared,” Kazakhstan head coach Alexandr Maltsev said.
Azhar Khamimuldinova scored the game’s only goal less than two minutes into the final period of a contest in which South Korea’s speed was seldom on display.
“Yesterday was a super emotional game for the girls and they were both physically drained and mentally and emotionally drained,” South Korea coach Sarah Murray said. “It was hard after the late night game. We were eating dinner at 10:30 and we had to be at the rink at 1 pm.
“You don’t want to say you gave the game away, but we didn’t show up ready. We have a tendency as a team to not keep an even, consistent emotional level. We are either really high or really low and we have to figure out a way to have a balance.
“We have to use this feeling, and everyone’s going to be down and mad and we just have to make sure we don’t get this feeling again.”
It was the first win for the Kazakhs. The three-time defending Asian Games champions had fallen 6-0 to host Japan in their opener and 8-3 to China on Monday.
Earlier, China rolled to its third straight win, 15-0 over Thailand, which fell to 1-2. The Chinese scored seven first-period goals — including three in a 35-second span.
Eleven different Chinese players scored, with Fang Xin scoring twice in the third period to complete her hat trick.