SOCHI, RUSSIA – 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.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5