International Ice Hockey Federation

Italy to battle for medal

Japan at brink of relegation after fourth loss

Published 27.04.2016 15:24 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Italy to battle for medal
Italian forward Joachim Ramoser scores the 3-1 goal against Japan. Photo: Miroslaw Ring
Italy secured its place in the World Championship Division I Group A after a 3-1 victory against winless Japan.

For Italy it was the second win in the fourth game, which keeps the team in the race for a medal at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A.

Japan has lost all four games so far and is at the brink of relegation. Only if Poland loses in regulation time against Austria tonight and if the Japanese beat Poland in regulation time on Friday can the Japanese avoid a last-place finish, which would make it the worst season for the Japanese men’s national team since being ranked 22nd overall in 2007.

This after a game that didn’t start bad for the Japanese. At 8:48 of their fourth game, Shuhei Kuji gave the Japanese the lead for the first time in the tournament. The Italian defence struggled clearing the puck in their zone and Daisuke Obara got the puck behind the net to feed Kuji with a diagonal pass.

At 13:20 Simon Kostner replied for Italy when scoring on a rebound after a blocked Luca Frigo shot and midway through the second period Anton Bernard gave Italy its first lead of the game. Marco Insam and Markus Gander successfully attacked defenceman Shinya Yanadori behind the net and after the pass back to the crease captain Bernard beat Takuto Onoda with a shot into the top-right corner.

Joachim Ramoser added the 3-1 goal some minutes later after great work from Giulio Scandella, who escaped on the right side and fed Ramoser on the left for his team’s third goal.

The Italians defended their lead well throughout the rest of the game and didn’t allow the Japanese too many chances to get back into the game. Italy will play Korea in its last game on Friday in a game between the two teams that were originally seeded on bottom after last year’s results but that will play for the medals on the last day of the tournament.