International Ice Hockey Federation

Slovenia starts big

Slovenia starts big

7-1 win in opener against Japan

Published 23.04.2016 16:40 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Slovenia starts big
One of Slovenia's goals in the 7-1 opening-day win against Japan. Photo: Miroslaw Ring
Slovenia started its 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A campaign with a well-deserved 7-1 victory against Japan.

Two years ago Japan started into the Division I Group A with a 2-1 upset win against Slovenia. Today the Slovenes didn’t waste any time and dominated the game from the beginning until the end to skate to a 7-1 win against the Asians that weren’t able to create much pressure on Robert Kristan’s net.

Captain Jan Urbas, who scored two goals and had three assists, opened the scoring at 7:35 of the first period. After a horizontal pass at the own blue line he skated towards Japanese goalie Yutaka Fukufuji and beat him with a hard shot to the far post.

“We have been practising together for the whole training camp and we’re getting better and better,” Urbas said about his successful line.

“Two years ago that was a little shock for us so we were even readier for today’s game and played really well all 60 minutes. We did the things we talked about before the game. I think it was a well-deserved victory.”

The second period started bad for Japan. Already going into the frame shorthanded, they had to start with an additional delaying-the-game penalty. The Slovenes capitalized on the opportunity with Urbas’ second goal. His shot from the right face-off circle hit Takuto Onada, who came in for Fukufuji after one period. The puck jumped off the goalie’s upper body and from there it went over the goal line.

During Slovenia’s next power play at 9:31 Miha Verlic made it a three-goal lead. Urbas was again involved trying it with a wraparound shot which he saw blocked, then Verlic netted the puck on his second attempt.

Less than four minutes later the Slovenes scored again. Anze Kuralt passed to Ken Ograjensek, who saw his long shot blocked, and then Ales Music was at the right place at the slot to capitalize on the rebound and force Japan coach Greg Thomson to use his time-out.

“I felt the first 20 minutes of the game were okay. We had our chances, unfortunately we had an unlucky goal against,” Thomson said. “With starting the second period 5-on-4 and then taking the penalty to make it 5-on-3, I felt at that moment we lost the focus and more or less lost the game due to that penalty.”

With 43 seconds left in the middle frame Verlic concluded a two-on-one with Urbas for the 5-0 goal.

The Japanese came on time for the third period but they didn’t have many noticeable chances to get back into the game until Shuhei Kuji scored Japan’s consolation goal on a rebound after a blocked Takafumi Yamashita shot on a counter-attack at 4:46. However, Slovenia closed the game with two more goals from Ograjensek and Ziga Pance to also win the last period.


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