23 April 2023
China 5 Ukraine 4 OT
It was a topsy-turvy battle, but it ended in a Chinese victory to open the Dragons’ 2023 World Championship campaign.
On day one of the Division IB tournament in Tallinn, our guys took on Ukraine. Both teams blew two-goal leads to tie 4-4 in regulation, but An Jian (Cory Kane) potted the overtime winner.
Kane believes our team will only benefit from a tough opener. “It was a rollercoaster,” he told IIHF.com. “We bounced back, and that was good for us. We took a couple of penalties late and they tied it, but we were able to finish what we needed to do.”
As for his winner, he added: “Yipper made a nice pass through the guy’s feet. I was able to push to the middle and I had a lot of ice. I saw low blocker side and I was able to put it away.”
That wrapped up a fascinating battle against a Ukrainian team with promotion aspirations of its own. Ukraine was first to show, with Olexi Vorona converting two power plays in the opening frame to open a 2-0 lead.
In the second, everything changed. China needed a quick response, and Zhou Keilin (Colin Joe) obliged with a goal after just 49 seconds. Then came a major penalty for Ukraine, and Ye Jinguang (Brandon Yip) tied it up on the power play. Wang Taile (Tyler Wong) led China’s scoring with three points, and he got the go-ahead goal when he redirected a Ruian Sipulaour (Ryan Sproul) pass. Late in the frame, Jieke Kailiosi (Jake Chelios) made it 4-2 when he intercepted a misplaced clearance and fired in from distance.
Seemingly in control of the game, China ran into penalty trouble again in the third. Ukraine took advantage, with Igor Merezhko pulling a goal back before Vorona completed his hat-trick to tie it up. Some teams might have crumbled under that pressure, but under Greg Ireland we’ve seen extra resilience from the Dragons in the KHL. Today we saw the same characteristics in the international arena as China weathered a late storm before regrouping to win it in OT.
There’s no time to rest on that success, though. Tomorrow the Dragons are back in action in the early game, taking on top seed Japan in an all-Asian battle. The Japanese began with an impressive 8-1 win over the Dutch, but can anticipate a stiffer test against Team China.
“I’d say we were fortunate to get the win tonight, and we’ll learn a lot for tomorrow’s game against Japan,” Yip said. “It’s going to be a good one.”