Germany and China remain undefeated after two days of play at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships B-Pool in Ostersund, Sweden.
Looking to medal for the third time at the B-Pool level, Germany defeated Sweden on Saturday (18 September) by a score of 3-1 in what could ultimately prove to be the deciding game in terms of which team advances to both the A-Pool and the Paralympic Qualification Tournament later this year.
“It’s of course our goal to go to the A-Pool,” German captain Bas Disveld said. “We are very happy that we could win this game because every time against Sweden it’s scary because they are very smart players.”
Following a scoreless first period, Swedish forward Peter Nilsson tallied the first goal of the game to put the home team up for about two minutes before Disveld and Bernhard Hering struck back for Germany. It was the second goal of the tournament for both Disveld, who represented Germany at the 2006 Paralympics, and Hering.
Ingo Kuhli-Lauenstein, a mechanical engineer off the ice, engineered the final goal of the game off a pass from Frank Rennahck to pad Germany’s lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the second stanza.
Hannover native Simon Kunst recorded six saves for Germany, while Ulf Nilsson, the oldest player on the ice at age 57, had 22 stops for Sweden.
China yet to concede a goal
China recorded its second consecutive shutout, defeating Finland 12-0 behind a hat trick from 20-year-old forward Hong Guan Li in his first international competition.
The next Paralympic Winter Games host nation scored nine of its goals in the first period, including two from both Yi-Feng Shen and Zhan-Fu Zhu and one from Xiao-Dong Song, Zhan-Fu Zhu, Jin-Tao Tian, Zhi-Dong Wang, Yu-Tao Cui and Ju-Jiang Wang.
Then Li added all three of his goals in the final two frames.
“We are feeling really good right now,” said Li, who leads all players at the tournament with six goals. “But we know after this tournament we’ll need a lot more practice on the ice to prepare for future tournaments and tougher competition.”
Yan-Zhao Ji and Wei Wang split the goaltending duties for China to combine for the shoutout, while Past Heikkila and Timo Karko had nine and 23 saves, respectively, for Finland, which is still looking for its first win at a World Championships B-Pool.
Kumagai puts five past the Poles
After losing to Germany in its opening game, Japan, under new coach Kenji Nobuta, bounced back with a demanding 10-0 shutout of Poland behind five goals from Nagano native Masaharu Kumagai.
Kumagai, whose right leg was amputated after a motorcycle accident in 2008, scored once in the first, once in the second, and three times in the third to convert on five of his 14 total shots in the contest. He had several more chances, but was adamant about helping some of the team’s up-and-comers find the net as well.
“I’m trying to support all the younger players and give them more confidence on the ice,” Kumagai said.
Yudai Ishikawa, playing in his fourth season, had two goals to his name and Kazuyoshi Niitsu and Yoshihiro Shiyoa added scores to put Japan in double digits.
Japanese goaltender and Paralympic silver medalist Mitsuru Nagase stopped the puck all four times it came his way while Polish net minder Kamil Zgorzynski had 31 saves.
Germany and China are tied atop the standings with six points apiece, followed by Sweden and Japan which each have three points. Finland and Poland are still seeking their first points at the tournament.
The World Championships B-Pool will continue in Ostersund on Sunday (19 September) beginning with China vs. Japan, followed by Finland vs. Germany and then Sweden vs. Poland.
The six teams are hoping to keep their Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games hopes alive at the round-robin style tournament, which runs through 22 September.
The top three finishers will advance to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games Qualification Tournament later this year, and the top two finishers will also be promoted to the A-Pool for the 2022-23 season.
All games are being streamed live on World Para Ice Hockey’s website and Facebook page. More information about the teams, complete schedule, and results can be found on the Ostersund 2021 microsite.