WEIDEN – China overcame the disappointment of their narrow first-round loss to Germany by defeating Kazakhstan thanks to two successive second-period goals, scored by Ben Zhang and Rui Sun.
"Our players appeared to be nervous and also think they were much better than our opponents. But in the end I am pleased as we finally we were able to win a game here," said Zhinan Zhang, head coach of China following his team's 2-1 win against Kazakhstan during the second round of games at the Women's Final Olympic Qualification Group D held in Weiden.
Both teams started this game with more than a point to prove, after having lost their respective first-round games. The scoreless first period flattering Kazakhstan the most as they were kept in the game by goalie Daria Obydennova, who had to fend off waves of offensive threats predominatly caused by China's first line led by Rui Sun, Fengling Jin and Liang Tang as the Harbin troika came close on a number of occasions.
Going into the second period, China came out flying and only 42 seconds into the middle frame, Mengying Zhang raced clear to find space on the left-hand side, found Ben Zhang, whose one-timer slinked through the pads of Obydennova to open the scoring for China.
Chinese complacency following the direct aftermath of their opening goal almost let Kazakhstan into the game. An penalty call for interference on China's Baiwei Yu at 2:51 of the second period saw the Kazakhs’ first line of Lyubov Ibragimova, Zarina Tukhtieva and Tatyana Koroleva pile up the pressure inside China's defensive zone. But losing the puck carelessly proved to be costly. With China's captain Sun snapping up the puck and racing clear and eyeball to eyeball with the goaltender, she hit an accomplished finish in the top corner to double China's lead after at 4:23.
But the Kazakhstan refused to give up, and got their reward at 10:48 when Ibragimova and Tukhtieva assisted Galina Shu to score behind Dandan Yia from Harbin, who was in China's goal today following the injury to their first choice netminder Yao Shi during the final frame against Germany. Despite an open and free flowing final frame, where Kazakhstan ventured forward and won the shots 9-3, China were to prevail in the end, winning the game 2-1.
"In yesterday's defeat against Czech Republic our players looked very nervous as it this is a very important tournament for us. Today we played a much better first period, unfortunately it was to be two mistakes in the second period that were to cost us this game," said Kazakhstan head coach Alexander Maltsev.
The Kazakhs play their final game against the Germany on Sunday, while China will finish the tournament against Czech Republic.