International Ice Hockey Federation

Czechs force Game 3

Czechs force Game 3

Polenska, Krizova score in tight contest

Published 09.11.2014 14:21 GMT+1 | Author Jack Gallagher
Czechs force Game 3
Czech captain Alena Polenska scores the game-winning goal in her team’s 2-0 victory against Japan to tie the Qualification Series. Photo: Tomoki Watabe
Goals by Alena Polenska and Denisa Krizova gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 victory over Japan and tied the Qualification Series in Yokohama 1-1.

Czech goalie Klara Peslarova was impressive in the shutout win in Game 2, stopping 17 shots behind a strong defence.

The winner of the best-of-three series will play in the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship in Malmo, Sweden, next spring, while the loser will take part in the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship Division I Group A in Rouen, France.

Game 3 will be contested here on Tuesday night.

Czech coach Jiri Vozak was analytical following his team's triumph.

"The start of the game was better for Japan. They attacked us well," he stated. "It was not optimal for us. From the second period we played the hockey we wanted to from the beginning. After we scored, our team relaxed and didn't feel any stress."

Japan coach Yoshifumi Fujisawa bemoaned his team's lost opportunity this day.

"We were pretty good in the beginning, but small mistakes did us in," noted Fujisawa. "They came hard at us. We need to be more creative after falling behind."

Japan goalie Nana Fujimoto made 20 saves in defeat.

Japan took the opener 2-0 on Saturday on goals by Naho Terashima and Shiori Koie and fine net play by Fujimoto.

It was a defensive battle once again between teams separated by just one spot in the 2014 IIHF Women’s World Ranking. Japan is eighth, while the Czech Republic stands ninth.

Japan took the initiative from outset, constantly putting pressure on the Czech defence. The puck was in the Czech half for a large part of the opening period.

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"They are fast and we tried to match their speed," said Polenska. "We had to rely on our skill to beat them."

Japan missed a good chance with just under 11 minutes left in the first period when Haruna Yoneyma took the puck up the left side and centred a pass to Tomomi Iwahara in the slot, but Peslarova was able to deflect the shot with her pad.

Both teams had power-play opportunities in the first period, but could not take advantage of them.

The Czech Republic's Katerina Flachsova was called for interference just over four minutes in, while Japan's Kanae Aoki was cited for tripping in the 12th minute.

Each team had five shots on goal in a scoreless first period.

The teams set a more frenetic pace in the second 20 minutes, as the intensity ramped up on both sides.

Miho Shishiuchi saw her shot in close saved by Peslarova just over seven minutes into the second period.

Peslarova, who was named player of the game for the visitors, pounced on a shot by Mika Hori from the slot just before the midway point in the second.

Polenska broke the deadlock with 4:45 remaining in the second period when she poked in a loose puck in front of the Japan goal.

"I just shoved it in," said Polenska of her goal. "We talked about this on the bench because our shots were not going in. We felt we should just get it in front of the goal and try to punch it in and that's what happened."

The Czechs had two chances to boost their lead on power plays after Ayaka Toko was called for slashing with just under four minutes left in the period, and Aina Takeuchi tagged for high-sticking a minute later.

Hanae Kubo missed a shot at an open net in the waning seconds and the Czechs led 1-0 going into the second intermission.

The Czechs seemed energized in the final period and put Japan on the defensive. Their tactics paid dividends with 10:40 left when Krizova scored past Fujimoto from close range to make it 2-0.

"It was a tense game," stated Fujimoto. "We had a lot of shots but could not score. I will concentrate and do my best in the third game."

Japan could not score on a final power play with just under nine minutes to go after Krizova was called for hooking.

Japan pulled Fujimoto in the final minute, but even with the additional skater they were unable to score.

"I feel great, but it was due to the whole team that we won," said Peslarova. "We believe we will win on Tuesday."

Forward Hanae Kubo was selected as Japan's player of the game.

"We played well at the start, but we could not score," commented Kubo. "We could not find our pace. Momentum is important."

Polenska said she and her teammates knew what was at stake.

"The pressure was on us to win," said Polenska. "We expected it to be close."

Fujimoto is not surprised that there will be a third game.

"I was prepared for three games," he commented. "It was going to be tough to win the first two."

Going into the decisive game of the series, Vozak rated his team's chances as a tossup.

"It could go either way," Vozak said. "Who wants it more will win."


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