Tohoku Free Blades move into Second Place
The Tohoku Free Blades received a 38 save shutout performance from Hata Michikazu to end the Nikko Icebucks four game run. Hata’s second shutout of the year and eight of his career ended a two game losing streak and pushed them into second place, one point behind Anyang Halla.
The first period was scoreless as Ono Kohei stopped 10 shots and Hata 13.
Ryo Tanaka playing in his 250th game scored a 5 on 3 power play goal just over five minutes into the second assisted by Matt Pope and Cole Jarrett to kick things off.
Rookie, Yushiro Hirano gave the Blades another goal, his 10th, mid-frame with help from Junya Yamada and Goshi Kumagai. The goal ties him with Makuru Furuhashi of the Bucks for rookie goal leader.
Early in the third Goshi scored his 4th at 41:56 and Matt Pope capped the night off with his 24th to reclaim the league goal scoring lead.
Notes: Both teams were missing key players tonight as Nikko’s David Bonk missed his third game in a row with a presumed injury. Tohoku defenseman Logan Stephenson sat out his first of three games as a result of suspension from the previous game. He’s eligible to return for the Blades on January 7th.
The two teams will participate in the 84th All-Japan Ice Hockey Championship from December 16-18 and return to league action December 24th.