Freeblades unbeaten run continues, Daemyung pull off major shocks, Halla find their groove, Cranes and Icebucks both pick up their first W
Tohoku Freeblades v Oji Eagles
After last weekend’s season openers, teams were starting to get back into the weekly schedule.
Following last weeks sweep of the Paper Cranes in Hachinohe, the Freeblades were the home team again, this time hosting the Oji Eagles in Koriyama. The Saturday game saw the Blades pick up a 4-1 victory.
The Saturday game saw the Blades pick up a 4-1 victory. Despite being a goal down after the first period, the Freeblades shot 4 unanswered goals to finish the game comfortably. The Sunday game was more of the same as the Blades ran out 5-2 victors to leave them sitting at the top of the table with 12 points from 4 regular time wins.
Sakhalin v Daemyung Killer Whales
Fresh on the heels of a double victory over reigning champions, Anyang Halla, Sakhalin were host to the Daemyung Killer Whales this week. Daemyung, coming in with a 1 and 1 record from the opening weekend, had shown some signs of improvement from last season under new coach Kevin Constantine, despite missing last seasons joint top scorer, Adam Estoclet through injury.
In what was expected to be a dominant performance from Sakhalin, Daemyung put the shoulder to the wheel and took a 1-0 lead midway through the second period through Brett Parnham. Timofey Shishkanov responded early on in the third to tie up the game and send it into overtime before Young Jun Lee hit the back of the net 15 seconds into OT to give Daemyung their second Overtime win of the season.
In the Monday night game, many people were expecting to see Sakhalin turn up and dominate Daemyung after the underdogs escaped with an unexpected with the night before. All seemed to be going to plan with Sakhalin going in at the end of the first period up 1-0. Daemyung responded to tie it up early on in the second but Sakhalin came back again with a score to go up 2-1. Daemyung then went on to score 4 goals in a row, before Sakhalin scored what was nothing more than a consolation goal at the end of the third period. Unbelievable series for Daemyung picking up two unlikely wins against a heavily favorited Sakhalin team. Even without Estoclet, Constantine seems to have steadied the ship and tightened up the defense a lot, Bryan Young putting in a massive shift to shut down a lot of the Sakhalin attacks. Are there problems at Sakhalin or was this just a speed bump. Only time will tell
High1 v Anyang Halla
On the back of a trip to Russia and only 1 point gained, Halla were back in Korea this weekend as they took on High1 in Goyang. High1, coming off a dominant win in Incheon against Daemyung the previous game, seemed fired up from the beginning. A game that can only be described as low on quality, high on action, ended with a 4-3 victory for Halla. The main highlights being Scott Barney opening his Halla account with 2 goals and a 2-second discrepancy with the clock. Definitely, a game High1 could have gotten more from. Had Mike Testwiude been fit to play against his old team he could have tipped the scales in the favor of High1
The Sunday game brought a different Halla. Having been lackluster for the previous 3 games, they started this game with much more intent. Troy Milam, picking up an injury in the Saturday game, also didn’t help High1’s cause. Halla played a fast paced, high-pressure game throughout and came out with a 4-0 victory. Definitely looks like Halla have finally blown off the cobwebs and can get back to their pursuit of a 3rd Asia League title in a row. Sang Wook Kim also picked up his 300th point in the league.
Nippon Paper Cranes v Nikko Icebucks
The final series of the weekend saw the Icebucks take on the Cranes in Kushiro. With both teams still trying to find the first win of the season, both teams went into the games optimistic. The game didn’t disappoint either with the two evenly matched sides playing three 1-1 periods to see the game finish 3-3 at the end of regular time. A scoreless overtime sent the game to a shootout with Hiroto Sato getting the game winning goal for the Bucks. Hiroki Ueno also picked up an assist in this game to become the 9th player in Asia League history to score 400 points.
The Sunday game was more of the same with the score being tied at 2-2 after the 3rd period. Another scoreless OT set up a second shootout in as many games. This time Yokuto Takami shot the game winning goal to reverse the result of the Saturday game and give the Cranes their first win of the season.