By Steven Ellis – Eurohockey.com
Japan’s hopes of winning the Asian Winter Games on home ice got off to a tremendous start thanks to an easy 14-0 win over China on the first day of competition.
11 different players combined for 14 goals, but it was Makuru Furuhashi who would lead the charge with three goals on the night. It was a huge moment for the 23-year-old, who was making his Japanese men’s national team debut. Oji Eagles scoring star Shuhei Kuji was on the top of his game as well, potting two goals, including the first on relief netminder Zehao Sun.
Former Los Angeles Kings goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji didn’t have a tough night, stopping all nine shots that were sent his way. Japan sent 59 shots towards China’s net, with just two beating Shengrong Xia in the first seven minutes before Sun finished off the game.
Kazakhstan Starts Off Strong
Fresh off of a silver medal at the recent Universiade on home ice, Kazakhstan has started off the Asian Winter Games off in style with a 4-0 victory over South Korea.
The game didn’t see a single goal until the 34th minute of the contest when 32-year-old forward Maxim Volkov scored his first national team goal. Nikita Mikhailis then capitalized on his team’s momentum just a minute later to make it 2-0, adding to his impressive year that saw him post two goals and seven points at the Universiade earlier in the month. Alikhan Asetov and Konstantin Savenkov would add goals in the third period to give Kazakhstan the eventual 4-0 victory.
Former Colorado Avalanche prospect Vitali Kolesnik was strong in the contest for Kazakhstan, stopping all 29 shots sent his way for the shutout. At the other end, former Boston Bruin and former top goaltender of the Asian League Matthew Dalton had a strong first half before a defensive collapse resulted in four goals against.
Korea is still working towards building a strong team for the 2018 Olympics, their first chance to play against the world’s greatest hockey nations.