Odaira, Numabe lead the way
by Chris JUREWICZ|28 JAN 2024
Odaira Umeka (JPN) and Thilde Lillenes-Tafto (NOR) compete for the puck during the Ice Hockey Women’s 6-on-6 Tournament Preliminary Round, Group A, Game 3 match at the Gangneung Hockey Centre. The Winter Youth Olympic Games, Gangwon, South Korea, Sunday 28 January 2024.
photo: © OIS (Olympic Information Service) / Joel Marklund
Gangneung Hockey Centre, GANGWON, South Korea – Japan had a goal called back in the first period as the referees ruled the puck had been kicked into the net, but the team didn’t show disappointment as it rolled to a 5-1 victory over Norway in the women’s ice hockey tournament at the Youth Olympic Games.

Japanese captain Kika Terauchi got things started when she took a cross-seam pass from Umeka Odaira and made no mistake with a quick snapshot past Norwegian goaltender Shiva Nobari.

The score remained 1-0 for Japan all the way to the third period. Forty-one seconds into the third, Japan took a 2-0 lead when Odaira streaked down the left side and made a perfect cross-crease pass to Azumi Numabe, who one-timed the puck in.

Norway would answer a few minutes later on Pla Helle’s powerplay goal but Japan was too much in the end, with Odaira scoring two and Numabe adding another for a four-goal period.

Odaira and Numabe each finished with two goals and three assists and Terauchi had a goal and three assists. Suzuno Fukuda stopped 12 of 13 shots for the win and Nobari turned away 36 of 41 shots in a losing cause in the Norwegian net.

Japan, the defending champion at the Youth Olympic Games on the women’s side, is 1-0 and Norway, at 0-2, has been eliminated from the tournament. Group A and B comprise three teams each, with the top two moving on to the semifinals.

Germany 4, France 0

Zoe Wintgen opened the scoring in the first period and later added an assist to pace the Germans to a 4-0 shutout win over France in the Germans’ first game of the tournament.

Hanna Weichenhain also had a goal and an assist and Mathilda Heine and Sandra Mayr also scored for the winning side. Hanna Bugl stopped 15 shots for the shutout.

It was France’s second-straight loss at these Games, having dropped its opener to Switzerland, meaning the French have been eliminated from the tournament.

Day 3 of the women’s event will see Sweden facing Japan and Switzerland taking on Germany, both games featuring teams that are 1-0 so far. All four teams will move on to the semifinals but the results of Day 3 games will impact where each team finishes and what the semifinal matchups will be.

Czechia, Finland post wins on the men’s side

Czechia peppered shot after shot at the Slovakian net but, for two periods, Slovak goaltender David Dvorak kept the score 0-0. This one had the feel of a game the Slovaks might win given the incredible performance of their goaltender, with Dvorak making 26 saves in the first two periods.

The play of Dvorak proved to be just not enough as Czechia beat Slovakia 3-2 in a fantastic hockey game that, unfortunately, spelled the end of the Slovaks’ tournament, having lost two games.

Slovakia opened the scoring in the third period versus Czechia when Michal Plancar went around the Czech net and made a pass out front to Alexej Kubat, who finished the play perfectly. It was 1-0 Slovakia, despite much of the play being carried by the Czcehs.

Simon Katolicky turned the game around, though, scoring twice in less than a minute to give Czechia a 2-1 lead. Petr Tomek made it 3-1 with an empty-net goal but the Slovaks didn’t stop playing and Filip Kovalcik scored with 26 seconds left to make it 3-2.

Dvorak ended up stopping 30 of 33 shots in a losing cause and Jan Larys made 22 of 24 saves for the win.
In the other men’s game of the day, Korean captain Siwan Gong got the home crowd in a frenzy when he opened the scoring one minute into the game against favoured Finland.

But that was the only lead the Koreans would enjoy, as Luka Arkko answered later in the frame to make it 1-1 and then Mattias Myllyniemi and Oliver Torkki scored even-strength goals in the second to give Finland a 3-1 lead. A scoreless third saw the game end with that same 3-1 score.

Finland moved to 1-0 and the host Koreans dropped to 0-2, having lost earlier to Canada, and have been eliminated from the tournament.

The final day of the preliminary round will see the United States face Czechia and Canada take on Finland, with all four teams heading into their games with 1-0 records.