International Ice Hockey Federation

Austria 2, Asia 0

Lebler game-winner gives first regulation-time win

Published 24.04.2016 23:14 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Austria 2, Asia 0
Austria's Manuel Geier in front of the Japanese net. Photo: Miroslaw Ring
After needing a shootout to beat Korea yesterday, Austria also had difficult times against Japan but won the game 3-1 to finish Day 2 in second place.

The Austrians outshot Japan 37-27 to get their second win against an Asian team and the first regulation-time victory. Brian Lebler scored the game-winning goal in the third period in which his line had two markers to decide the game.

“It was close until the end. Japan is a great team, every team here is great. Every point is going to be so important in the end,” Lebler said.

“We’re happy that we won points from both games against Korea and Japan. You don’t come to this tournament not wanting to move up. Next is Italy, they want to move up as well, so it’s going to be a battle.”

Austria had a great start into the game and put a lot of pressure onto Takuto Onada’s net already in the first few minutes. At 2:49 Nikolas Petrik succeeded with a low shot from behind the face-off circles that went in deflected by Japanese defenceman Shinya Yanadori.

The Japanese capitalized on the first power play of the game that came late in the first period. Takafumi Yamashita sent off a slap shot into the top-right corner for the 1-1 goal at 17:50 that was touched by Seiji Takahashi.

Like in the opening frame Austria created more opportunities than the Japanese in a second period in which none of the teams were able to capitalize on their chances. That changed early in the third period. Raphael Herburger skated along the right boards, sent of a horizontal pass to Manuel Geier, who fed goal scorer Brian Lebler at 3:32.

Austria’s third line succeeded against midway through the period when after a Lebler shot Herburger capitalized on a loose puck in the goal crease. Japanese defenceman Kazumasa Sasaki came too late and the chanting, flag-waving Austrian fans started to celebrate in anticipation of the first regulation-time win.

“Comparing to yesterday’s game we took a step forward. Both teams had their chances. Unfortunately we didn’t capitalize on ours. Austria did,” Japan head coach Greg Thomson commented after the game. “We have to keep believing in ourselves and keep going.”

The Japanese became more active in the third period than in the 40 minutes before but their opportunities were too few. The best chance came after back-to-back passes of Takahashi and Daisuke Obara but the puck stuck below goalkeeper Bernhard Starkbaum on the goal line and Austria got the three points it wanted.