|February 21st, 2013|
|7||Round Robin||10:00am||RUS - JPN||1 - 1 (1 - 0) (2 - 3 PS)||Final|
Russia came within 45 seconds of a famous win over world number nine side Japan only for Aki Mitsuhashi to nick in a dainty deflection to Sachimi Iwao’s free to tie up matters in the final minute of this Hero Hockey World League Round Two tie.
To compile the Russian woes, Japan earned the bonus point with a winning draw, Rika Komazawa coolly out-thinking Oxana Serezhkina for the vital goal in a 3-2 shoot-out success.
It salvaged a tricky situation for the tournament top seeds who fell behind to a brilliant Tamara Ivanova effort, twisting and turning in the circle before unleashing an unstoppable rising backhand shot. From there, the Russians defended robustly and kept out six penalty corners while Serezhkina made a number of fine saves.
The pick of them came from Kaya Fukano’s high shot, palming the ball dramatically away to safety. It looked like they were on course for victory that would have opened up the group entirely until the last minute when Iwao picked out Mitsuhashi to break their hearts.
In the shoot-out, the sides were neck-and-neck until the fifth round, both scoring in the first and third rounds and missing in the second and fourth series, leaving it locked at 2-2.
But Komazawa’s tight skills eventually put the Russian goalkeeper off balance and she slotted in. Ivanova could not match the feat as Ryoko Oie dived to sweep the ball to safety and a welcome bonus.