TOKYO, Japan – The Nippon Paper Cranes held onto their first place position in the Asia League Ice Hockey standings (9-2, 30 points) with two road wins over the Nikko Icebucks in the first week of play in October. The Oji Eagles went 1-1 this week and remain in second place (7-2, 23 points).
High1 hosted the Eagles on Tuesday for the final game in September and a two-goal performance by Mike Swift highlighted the 4-2 victory for the home team.
After a scoreless first period, Swift had the opening tally, beating Eagles goalie Junji Ogino at the 22:13 mark with the assists from defensemen Dong Hwan Kim and Bryan Young.Things got chippy between opposing defensemen Hyeok Kim and the Eagles’ Thomas Kemp at the 34:24 – earning the two matching Roughing calls (a double minor for Kim).
Bin Ishioka made it 2-0 off a feed from David Brine at the 39:18. Ryuichi Kawai had the secondary assist. 23 seconds later, Yosuke Kon delivered the eventual game-winner, off the set up by defenseman Hyeok Kim and Dong Hwan Song.
The Eagles came alive in the final frame when Mike Kompon finally solved High1 goalie Mitsuake Inoue at the 48:07 mark. Defenseman Thomas Kemp and Seiji Takahashi assisted. But the Eagles’ late comeback attempt was squelched by Mike Swift, who scored his second of the game less than two minutes later to make it a 4-1 game. Hyeok Kim and Dong Hwan Song assisted the score. Hiromichi Terao cut the final score to 4-2 at 57:57, assisted by Masafumi Ogawa.
Mitsuaki Inoue earned the win, stopping 38 of 40 shots faced. It was the third straight victory for High1, who have a week off and will return to action on October 12th against the Tohoku Free Blades at Chuncheon.
It was a different story for the Eagles on Wednesday when they visited Daemyung Sangmu at Goyang. It was the Sho Sato show as the Eagles delivered the first shut out to Sangmu, 4-0. Sato had four points (2 G, 2 A) and goalie Junji Ogino stopped all 17 shots by the home team for the win.
Eric Lampe scored first at 19:33, delivering the game-winner off a feed from Sato and Takeshi Saito. A Tripping call on Sangmu defenseman Hyon Ho Oh led to a power play strike by Eagles defenseman Thomas Kemp to make it 2-0, assisted by Mike Kompon and Saito. 17 seconds later, Sato made it 3-0 with a little help from defenseman Ryo Hashiba and Saito. Sato added the final tally unassisted at 44:43. Seven of the game’s 11 penalties were called after the final score and Sangmu defenseman Hyon Ho Oh received a Game Misconduct at 59:40 for a check to the head.
On Saturday, the Tohoku Free Blades returned to action, visiting Anyang Halla and delivering a 2-1 loss to the home team. Defenseman Goshi Kumagai scored first for the Blades, beating Halla goalie Ho Sung Son with 1:05 remaining in the first period of play. Ned Lukacevic and defenseman Darrell Hay were in on the assist. Halla’s Mike Testwuide tied it up at 54:19 off a pass by defenseman Jeff Dimmen. D-man Dustin Wood was credited with the secondary assist.
Following a scoreless overtime period, it was Lukacevic who tallied the game-winner, sending the puck past Son for the win. Michio Hashimoto earned the win, stopping 47 of 48 shots faced.
In Saturday’s other action, the visiting Nippon Paper Cranes defeated the Nikko Icebucks 3-1. The Icebucks got on the scoreboard first in the second period when Hiroki Ueno beat Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa at the 26:33 mark, assisted by Dave Bonk and defenseman Taydg McGauley.
Ishikawa remained solid for the remainder of the game, stopping a total of 22 of 23 shots faced on the day. Daisuke Obara scored on Icebucks goalie Yutaka Fukufuji to make it a 1-1 contest at the 39:27 mark, assisted by Naoya Kubo and defenseman Shinya Yaadori. Defenseman Eric Regan made it 2-1 with the eventual game-winner scored on the power play at 46:48. Dedenseman Adam Miller and Mike Radja were credited with the assists. Obara added the final tally, supported by Radja and Miller with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.
On Sunday, Anyang Halla hosted the Free Blades and Brock Radunske scored the winning goal after the game could not be decided in overtime. Radunske’s game-winner also completed a hat trick for the “Canadian Big Beauty” as he is known by his fans. It wasn’t the only Hat trick of the night as the Free Blades captain Go Tanaka also managed the feat.
Sang Jin Park opened up the scoring for Halla at 4:10, assisted by Jin Ho Jeon and Kuk Hwan Mun.
The Free Blades followed with three unanswered goals starting with Go Tanaka’s first at 18:06, beating Halla goalie Ho Sung Son with the assists from Takuma Kawai and defenseman Darrell Hay. Just 1:21 later, Shohei Ikeda made it 2-1 with the feed coming from Ned Lukacevic. Tanaka scored his second at 23:13 making it a 3-1 game, assisted by Naoto Mizuuchi and Kawai.
Halla got back on the board at 32:15 with Radunske’s first strike, fed by defenseman Jeff Dimmen and Kuk Hwan Mun. Radunske added his second at 41:07 to make it 3-3, assisted by defensemen Dimmen and Dustin Wood. Tanaka completed his hat trick, giving the Free Blades a 4-3 lead just over two minutes later, assisted by Kawai and Mizuuchi. Young Jun Lee managed the equalizer for Halla at 46:52, with the helpers from Wood and Mike Testwuide.
There was no further scoring in regulation and overtime and Radunske beat Michi Hashimoto with the deke and a shot over the goalie’s shoulder for the win.
In the final game of the weekend, the Paper Cranes delivered a second 3-1 loss to the Nikko Icebucks in a physical contest at the Nikko Kirifuri Ice Arena.
The Cranes scored three unanswered, with the first coming from Adam Miller at the 14:07 mark, assisted by Mike Radja and Masahito Nishiwaki. A little over 10 minutes later, Kenta Takagi made it 2-0 with the eventual game-winner, assisted by defensemen Hideyuki Osawa and Shinya Yanadori.
Defenseman Matt Waddell finally beat Hisashi Ishikawa at the 58:03 mark, sealing the final score at 3-1 with the helpers from Hiroki Ueno and Kazuma Iwamoto. Ishikawa didn’t get the shut out, but earned the win, stopping 28 of 29 shots faced.
High1’s Michael Swift leads the league in goals (14) and the Cranes’ Adam Miller continues to lead the league in assists (23) and points (28). The Cranes lead the league on the power play (44.12%) and the Oji Eagles lead the penalty kill (91.43%).
Asia League action will resume on Tuesday when the Paper Cranes play their third road game against the Nikko Icebucks and the Free Blades visit Mok-Dong to take on Daemyung Sangmu.
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