SAPPORO (Kyodo) Defending champion Kokudo and the Asia League champion Nippon Paper Cranes both labored to victory at the ice hockey national championships on Saturday to advance to the final. Kokudo defeated Nikko Icebucks 5-2 at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo thanks to two goals apiece by Chris Yule and Chris Bright and one by Takahito Suzuki, while Nippon Paper edged Oji Paper 3-2 in the semifinals featuring four Japan Ice Hockey League teams. The final and playoff for third place will take place Sunday.

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