|Icebucks win series 2-0|
The Eagles had won 5 of 6 regular season games with 4 of 6 one goal games, but the underdog Bucks got scoring from every line and went 4 for 10 on the power play. Makuru Furuhashi, who finished second in league rookie scoring, led all scorers with 4 points including the OT winner in game one.
The Eagles clawed back in both games and took the Bucks to the brink; which is their Achilles’ heel when they get into run and gun games. Luckily for the men in orange, they were tops in the league with 7 extra-time victories and will go against PSC Sakhalin in the second round best of five series.
|Blades win series 2-0|
The two teams split the regular season 3-3, and the series was also razor thin. Yet, the Blades came out on top and will face Anyang Halla.
Cole Jarrett, the league-leading scoring defenseman during the regular season and rookie Hirano Yushiro each recorded five points for the Blades.
Jeff LoVecchio led the Cranes with 4 points followed by Ben Walter with 3.
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.
The Blades started the scoring with a power play goal from Ryo Tanaka (12) 1:07 into the game after Ryuichi Kawai was sent off for hooking. Yuhei Shinohara picked up his first point on the play in just his second game of the season after missing the first 29 due to injury. But within two minutes the Icebucks replied on Mark Derlago’s 17th with assists from rookie Makuru Furuhashi and Kazuma Iwamoto.
The second period fell into a bunch of sin bin sitting as the teams racked up 15 penalties and managed 13 shots and 1 goal. Rookie Yushiro Hirano took a pass from Matt Pope to score his 9th of the year. For Pope, the assist makes him the first player to reach 50 points on the season.
During the third period score chances were even fewer than the second, but Derlago popped his 18th past Itoh to send the game to OT where he assisted on Kevin Mitchell’s power play marker (7) for the win.
Notes: 4th consecutive win for Bucks. Rookie Makuru Furuhashi had two points which gives him 20 points which is second among rookies. Logan Stephenson received 34 PIM including a 20 minute game misconduct and could be suspended.
High1 concluded their 3 game road trip to China by driving 49 shots at Michio Hashimoto. Tyler Brickler’s 8th goal on a power play in the first started the ball rolling, but Bin Ishioka’s 17th tied it shortly after.
Mike Swift’s 14th and 199th of his career put High1 in front 15:07 into the 2nd and it remained that way until Katsuma Kondo tied it with the extra attacker with 2:19 on the clock in the third period.
Defensmen Kim Hyoek’s 5th won the game at 61:26.