Asia League Wrap-up

Asia League Wrap-up

23 Sep 2013 | Matthew Cross
 

Icebucks pop their cherry then take the week off, Sangmu has some ups and downs, Eagles get a few easy games against Dragon

 
 
 
 
A busy week in the Asia League was highlighted by some firsts. The Icebucks got their first victory of the season against Sangmu, High1 got their first victory against Halla, and Sangmu met the Blades for the first time.

Weekday Games

Icebucks vs Sangmu 3-2

After a couple of home game losses against the new team from Korea, the Icebucks were desperate for a victory. Despite Sung-je's ability in net, Sangmu couldn't generate enough offence to support him. It was also the third game in three days for the diminished Korean squad, and fatigue undoubtedly was a factor in the game. The Icebucks just poured on the shots, outshooting them 35 to 25 and with only a second to go they were rewarded with Yoshinori Iimura's goal, making it 3-2. Waddel was making his presence felt in the game with 14 minutes in penalties.
The game was almost postponed due to a looming storm, and the arena suffered some leakage and water damage prior to the start of the game. Volunteers showed up pre-game to help clean up and prepare. They also bumped up the start of the game and were able to hold it. The Bucks credit the fans' energy in helping them secure the victory.

Cranes vs Dragon 14-1

Very little to say about this. The Cranes set some season highs with 71 shots and 14 goals. China's lone goal came from Beason on the power-play. Of note, Radja scored the first 3 goals for the Cranes, and even though it was a blow-out China only gave up a single goal in the first. Radja added two more goals later, but strangely didn't make any assists all night.

Eagles vs Dragon 8-0

The Eagles went a little easy on the Dragon. The Dragon were held to only 8 shots all game Kuji scored the winner only 20 seconds into the game. China had a 4 minute power-play in the second but took a penalty in the middle of it. Bao had the distinction of taking simultaneous penalties for holding and elbowing.

Icebucks celebrate their first victory of the season against Sangmu, photo courtesy Nikko Icebucks

Saturday

Blades vs Sangmu 3-5

In their first meeting, Sangmu came up victorious. The Blades tried to overwhelm them with numerous shots, outshooting them 53 to 24. Sung-je is making a case for himself as top goalie despite the numbers, and Sangmu might demonstrate the kind of team China could be if they could get something going in front of the goalie. The lead went back and forth in the game with the Blades opening the scoring in the second only to see Sangmu score twice. In the third, it was the Blades turn to score twice, only to have Woosang tie it up a minute later. With the game tied and time winding down, discipline cost the Blades as they took two hooking calls 30 seconds apart and gave up the game on a 5 on 3. With seconds left and desperation kicking in, the Blades pulled Hata from the net. Don-ku made them pay and scored the empty netter.
Sung-je has faced the second most shots of any goalie in the league, only Sakai of China has faced more, yet his numbers are very good. He is ranked 7th on save percentage with with half the goalies above him only having played 1 or 2 games.

Eagles vs Dragon 7-0

The Dragon put in a little more effort in this game, managing 16 shots. There were 17 penalties in the game, but neither could manage to get anything going on the power-play with the Eagles preferring to wait for regular strength to score their goals.

Halla vs High1 2-5

After High1's lacklustre performance the weekend before, Halla might be forgiven for thinking they would have an easy time on Saturday. Instead it was Halla's turn to look less than sharp on the ice. The game showed some of the spark that the teams seemed to be missing the weekend before. When these two teams get together the game is usually chippy and tempers flare. High1 seemed more or less unfazed by the events last weekend and didn't engage in any rough stuff. This week was different with several roughing calls during the game and lots of pushing and shoving.
High1 took the lead early and held it. Their second goal came when Ishioka managed to score short-handed on a 4 on 3 situation. Brine added another short-handed goal a few minutes later, and in the third, Halla also scored a short-handed goal. With the score 4-2 Halla pulled the goalie and made an effort to tie it up, but the puck was uncooperative and found it's way to former Halla player, Dong-hwan Song who scored on the empty net. Halla had a slight edge in shots but Inoue stood tall and made some big saves for High1.

Sunday

Blades vs Sangmu 2-1

The game was the second meeting between the two teams, and they scored all their goals in a less than three minute span in the second period. The Blades got their first goal in the midst of a 5 on 3, and then a few seconds after it ended, scored again. Just over a minute later, Sangmu scored, but that was all they had. Both teams were aggressive during the third and Sangmu pulled Park, but couldn't manage to tie the game. The Blades pounded Park again with 48 shots to Sangmu's 22.

Eagles vs Dragon 8-1

Another Dragon game, another blow-out. The Dragon were heavily penalized in the game, and outshot 65 to 7. They at least managed a goal from Soo in the second period. It's hard to make any sense out of the point rankings or individual stats until all the teams have had a crack at China. As we saw last season, early on games against China can heavily pad a players or team's stats. It's little surprise that current break-away points leaders in various stats all belong to the teams which have played multi-game schedules with China.


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