Former NHL center Joel Prpic scored a game-tying goal in the first period on Tuesday in the Seibu Prince Rabbits’ 4-2 victory over the Oji Eagles in Game 1 of the Asia League Ice Hockey playoff semifinals at DyDo Drinco Ice Arena.
The Rabbits overcame a 2-1 deficit entering the second period, getting the equalizer from Tomohiko Uchiyama with just over 3 minutes to play before the second intermission.
Sho Sato and Yosuke Kon added third-period tallies for the Rabbits.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is on Wednesday night at the same Tokyo venue.
Tetsuya Saito gave Oji a 1-0 lead at the 6:34 mark of the first. Prpic, who appeared in 18 NHL games spread out over the 1997-98, 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons with the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche (all but one with the former team), tied it up at the 10:13 mark.
Akihito Kawamoto put the Eagles ahead 2-1 eight seconds later.
In Tuesday’s other ALIH semifinal opener, forward Patrick Martinec scored a hat trick in the Anyang Halla’s 6-2 home victory over the Nippon Paper Cranes.
Trailing 2-1 after one period, the South Korean squad, the league’s top team during the regular season, scored five unanswered goals, including three in the final period.
Masahito Nishiwaki finished with two goals for the Cranes. Kengo Ito and Chris Yule were both credited with assists on Nishiwaki’s goals.