Oji Eagles win Asia League 2011-12

Oji Eagles win Asia League 2011-12

24 Mar 2012 | Henrik Lundqvist
 

Shuhei Kuji scored the championship winning 4-3 goal for Oji Eagles against Nikko Icebucks in the fourth game of the Asia League finals.

 
 
 
 
The finals of the Asia League that includes four teams from Japan, two from Korea and one from China were played between two Japanese teams; Oji Eagles and Nikko Icebucks.

Oji won the best-of-five series 3-1 after today’s away win. The hero for Eagles was Shuhei Kuji who opened the scoring after a minute and also scored the 4-3 game-winner at 6:19 of the overtime period.

Oji gained a 3-0 lead after Kuji’s 1-0 goal, Marc Cavosie’s 2-0 in the second period and Sho Sato’s 3-0 goal at 46:32. But the home team Nikko hadn’t given up. Takayuki Ono scored at 48:31 and just 30 seconds later Dong Hwan Song made it 2-3. The equalizer came with 4:22 remaining when Takahito Suzuki beat Masahiro Haruna in Oji’s net.

Oji dominated the overtime period with 7 shots on goal while Nikko only managed to fire one. Shuhei Kuji took the last shot that meant a 4-3 victory and Oji’s second ever Asia League championship.

The regular season winner Oji Eagles got to start the finals series with three home games and surprisingly lost the first one 4-6. Then followed a secure 5-0 win in game two. Game three was closer. Oji won it 4-3.

In the semis Oji knocked out Nippon Paper Cranes in three straight games (4-1, 3-0 and 5-1). Nikko had a tougher path. They lost the first two games away to Korean Anyang Halla 6-2 and 4-1, but managed to win the last away game 3-2. They then won their home games 3-0 and 4-3.

Three of the league’s seven teams failed to qualify for the playoffs. High1 (Korea) was very close as they finished only one point behind 4th placed Nippon Paper Cranes. Tohoku Free Blades finished 6th and China Dragon who only managed to win one point in 36 games finished last.

One of Oji’s two American players, Marc Cavosie, was the top scorer of the playoffs with 4 goals and 8 assists in 7 games. The other American import in the team is defenseman Chris Harrington.

Last year the Asia League finals were canceled due to the big earthquake in Japan and both finalists Anyang Halla and Tohoku Freeblades were named champions.
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