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Japan goes winless in women’s hockey tournament

Kyodo, AP

Susann Gotz had a goal and an assist to lead Germany to a 3-2 victory over Japan on Tuesday in the Olympic women’s hockey seventh-place game.

Japan, which has never won a game in the Olympics, finished eighth and is now 0-10, including its games from the 1998 Nagano Olympics, where it gained entry as the host nation.

“The difference in accuracy was evident when it came down to make-or-break power plays,” said coach Yuji Iizuka. “Our speed and stamina were effective, but the difference was when we were fighting for the puck one-on-one and shooting ability. We have to use this experience to take a step forward four years from now.”

“Smile Japan,” as Iizuka’s squad is nicknamed, allowed Germany to take a 1-0 lead on a goal from Susann Gotz in the first period after Hanae Kubo was penalized for hooking.

Kubo redeemed herself with a goal at the 13: 40 mark, but Germany pulled ahead in the second period, when Julia Zorn scored after Japan received another penalty for having too many players on the ice.

Sara Seiler made it 3-1 toward the end of the second period before a goal by Haruna Yoneyama cut the deficit to one in the third period. But it was too little, too late.

“This result is disappointing since we were aiming for a medal,” Yoneyama said. “I trusted my teammates and got in position for that second goal. The Olympics isn’t just about gaining experience, it’s also about producing results.”

Perhaps the one silver lining this time was more goals scored and fewer conceded. In Nagano, Japan was outscored 45-2. In Sochi, the team was outscored 16-6.

Yoko Kondo, the only remaining member from the Nagano team, said, “This is a tough result to swallow, but in the end we were able to play Japanese ice hockey. It gives me confidence that our speed worked against the world’s top teams. We want to play more games on the top stage, and it’ll be important to continue playing strong opponents.”

Viona Harrer made 27 saves for German, which beat Japan for the second time here.

Nana Fujimoto made 11 saves for Japan on 14 shots before she was replaced in the second period by Akane Konishi.

  • Paul Stanner

    Dear Japanese Friends :

    I would like to thank you so much for sending your Women’s Olympic Hockey Team to Sochi. Their custom of bowing to each other is charming and so much in the Olympic Spirit. I hope you continue to send them. They embody what the Olympics should be all about.

    On related notes. Your women’s team was robbed of a goal vs. Canada that may have changed the outcome of the game. The world is aware of this fact. They really are not all that far away from winning a few games and then becoming a women’s hockey power. I hope that Japan will continue to send them to the Olympics. They are a delight to watch play hockey and interact with people from the rest of the world..

    Paul Stanner

    Boise Idaho U.S.A.

  • kobaltkween

    Smile Japan is a wonder to watch play. Especially Fujimoto, who probably made more saves in the Olympics than any other goalie. Their determination and speed drew the crowds to cheer enthusiastically for them whenever they were on the attack. While their fans would have been happier to watch them win, absolutely everyone could see how far this team had taken Japan in women’s hockey. Their impressive skills were obvious to all, including most commentators, who could not keep from wondering at how far they’d come to reach this point. I hope they brought as much joy to those following them in Japan as they did the rest of us around the world.