China back in the win column
by Derek O'Brien|27 APR 2023
China's Jiang Fu (#15) had two assists in the win over Serbia. 
photo: IIHF / Catherine Kõrtsmik / Eesti Hoki

After a disappointing 7-2 loss to the Netherlands yesterday, China is back in the win column with a 5-0 shutout victory over Serbia. The Chinese team scored twice in the first period, twice more in the second, and once more in the third period despite three power plays as the team concentrated more on defence to preserve the shutout for Yongli Ouban (Paris O’Brien), which was never seriously threatened.

“Yesterday we had some breakdowns and gave up a lot of chances that we shouldn’t have, so we were definitely concentrating more on playing some good defence and keeping the puck in front of us,” said defenceman Jie Lui (Jason Fram). “We knew that we needed to come out strong and prove to ourselves that yesterday was a bit of a fluke.”

“We didn’t play our best game today but we had some good moments,” said Serbian captain Nemanja Vucurevic. “The main thing was for us to stick to our structure and have discipline in the D-zone and wait for our chances. That was our goal today, but we made some little mistakes and we didn’t have that energy that we were looking for.”

China outshot Serbia 58-15 in the game. After lamenting taking too many penalties in their previous games, a disciplined Chinese squad took only one minor penalty in the first period of this game, while earning four power plays. Jia Luo (Luke Lockhart) led China’s offence with a goal and two assists.

Shuai Foo (Parker Foo) opened the scoring just past the eight-minute mark, taking a pass from Luo and firing a shot over Arsenije Rankovic’s right shoulder. After killing off a penalty, China went up 2-0 in the 15th minute on a Kailiaosi Jieke (Jake Chelios) blast from the point.

It was more of the same in the middle frame. Early on, An Jian (Cory Kane) scored the third Chinese goal on a one-timer after a feed from Jinguang Ye (Brandon Yip). With just 23 seconds left in the period, Luo capitalized on a turnover at the Serbian blueline, then split the defence and beat Rankovic with a wrist shot over the glove.

After Rankovic stopped 28 of 32 shots over the first 20 minutes, Akim Padalica tended the Serbian net over the final period. He came under heavy fire as the team had to kill off three penalties and faced 26 shots, but the only one to beat him came at even strength midway through the period on a wrist shot from Lui.

“I think we have to take the positives from it and just know how much better we have to be coming into our last game (against Estonia) and also for next year,” said Lui.

With the win, China is now safe from relegation. Serbia is not, but will be fans of Ukraine in the next game, hoping that team can keep the Netherlands within reach on Saturday.

“The good thing for us is that we have one day to rest, so there will be no excuses,” said Vucurevic. “We just have to recharge and bring that into the final game.”