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Japan remains undefeated with win over Denmark

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Emerging as the class of Group B, Japan, ranked sixth in the world, maintained its undefeated mark, prevailing over Denmark in a highly convincing 6-2 final. With aspirations of reaching the quarterfinals for the first time, such goals appear within reach, as Japan sits in first place.

The last time these two nations clashed, Japan won in a tightly contested 1-0 final from August 2021. As the first ten minutes of the match were scoreless, no penalties called, all indications were that it would be another stalemate.

Instead, Japan’s offensive attack recorded a trio of goals in a timespan of only 3:06, dashing Denmark’s hopes for their first Olympic win. Opening the scoring at 10:46, 21 year-old Hikaru Yamashita supplied Japan with their first lead.

Merely 82 seconds later, Haruka Toko scored through the five-hole, added to the lead, as her sister Ayaka, one of the assistant captains, and Aoi Shiga earned the assists. Following Toko’s goal, Rui Ukita, who scored the game-winning goal versus Sweden, contributed Japan’s third goal. Danish goaltender Cassandra Repstock-Romme was pulled, as Lisa Jensen made her first Olympic appearance between the pipes.

Less than three minutes into the second period, Ayaka Toko placed her name on the scoresheet, with her sister assisting, both gaining multi-point games.

Spoiling goaltender Nana Fujimoto’s bid for a shutout, Mia Bau got the Danes on the board. Skating on the left wing, Bau received a pass from Nicolene Jensen, trimming the Japanese lead to three goals.

Ice Hockey – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Women’s Classification Match – Sweden v Japan – Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea – February 18, 2018 – Shiori Koike of Japan celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a second period goal. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

With Danish blueliner Josephine Asperup called for roughing, their third penalty  of the period, Japan took advantage. Finding the back of the net, Aoi Shiga restored Japan’s four goal advantage, while Haruka Toko logged an assist for her third point of the game.

Scoring for Japan in the third period, Haruna Yoneyama would play a part in the game’s final minute. With Ahane Konishi between the pipes for Japan, Yoneyama was called for tripping with merely 26 seconds remaining.

Capitalizing on the opportunity, Danish captain Josefine Jakobsen scored her first Olympic goal as there was only six seconds left on the clock. Josefine Persson and Michele Weis recorded the assists for their first points in Beijing.

Haruka Toko would lead all players with three points, while her sister Ayaka was one of three players from Japan’s roster that enjoyed a two-point performance.

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