Game 10: JPN - ROU / Photo: Sarunas Mazeika
Fightback overcomes Romania in OT
Shogo Nakajima's overtime goal separates a tight contest. A 3-2 win keeps Japan in contention in Div. 1B. Romania earns their first point.
Down 1-2 and heading into the final frame saw Japan capitalize in their quest for goals. Tomoya Echigo equalized less than three minutes into the final frame before Japan earned an additional point in overtime. Kenta Takagi scored Japan's opener in a game where they outshot Romania 50-29.
Romania battled valiantly to gain a morale-boosting point, their first at this level for four years. Patrik Polc was in inspiring form in Romania's net with 47 saves. Romania's goals were tallied by Csanad Fodor and Tamas Reszegh.
"It was a tough game for us. We just wanted to keep the score low and play solid defensively and then use our speed once we get the puck," said Yuki Miura in his post-match interview as Japan moves up to seven points after four games. Ukraine now awaits in their final game at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Kaunas.
"When first arriving here we came here to win the tournament, but we lost against Lithuania and that we cannot change. Now we just have to focus on our game against Ukraine, do our best in that game and then wait for the other scores," said Miura.
Japan's Ryo Hashiba and Taika Irikura were out injured for their second consecutive game, while one of Romania's late arrivals Catalin-Adrian Berdila saw regular action.
For the fourth consecutive game in Kaunas, Romania conceded first. A Mircea Constantin minor penalty, saw Takagi round the cage to squeeze home Japan's opener at 2:48.
Romania hit back to convert from powerplay. At 8:09, Otto Biro's shot took a deflection before Fodor reacted quickest to tie the game at one.
After a cautious start, Japan got into their stride with both Go Tanaka and Echigo going close. Romania who then failed to convert on a 5-on-3 before the end of the first frame got their reward early in the middle period.
Picking up his options from the left boards, Daniel Tranca found an onrushing Tamas Reszegh who reacted ahead of Takuma Kawai for Romania to go ahead for the first time in Division 1B in Kaunas.
But Japan surged back. Echigo got rewarded for his tenacity as he converted to tie the game with 7:07 left after Nakajima had gone on an audacious dash from the right. Takuma Kawai then went close twice in the dying minute of the final frame before Japan recorded their second overtime win in the tournament.
While Japan steps up their medal hunt, Romania's relegation battle might be out of their hands ahead of their final game with Croatia tomorrow.
They will be following the progress of Ukraine and Croatia during today's round of games, before looking to finish the tournament on a high with a win in their final game.
"This point today will help us for sure," said Romania's Tranca following their confidence boost against Japan. "They are a tough team to play against and after this performance, I believe we are strong enough to win our final game," he continued.