27 April 2023
China 5 Serbia 0
After yesterday’s disappointment against the Netherlands, Thursday’s game against Serbia was all about team China’s reaction. And the guys made it clear that they had taken on board the failings against the Dutch, producing an emphatic 5-0 victory.
It was a satisfying afternoon for goalie Ouban Yongli (Paris O’Brien), who posted his first shut-out here in Tallinn. He was well-protected by the defense, which allowed just 15 shots on our net through 60 minutes.
At the other end, goals came consistently, with Fu Shuai (Parker Foo), Jieke Kailiaosi (Jake Chelios), Jian An (Cory Kane), Luo Jia (Luke Lockhart) and Liu Jie (Jason Fram) all finding the net.
“That’s the way we wanted to play all tournament,” Chelios told IIHF.com. “I think before we came out a little slow and a little undisciplined in our system, but this is the way we want to play.
“Defense wise it was much better than yesterday. These teams stick to their plan and they can skate, so if you can’t keep up with them you’re in trouble. That’s what went wrong yesterday and it cost us the game.”
From the start, China played with more discipline. Serbia only had one power play in the game as our guys stayed out of the box and concentrated on pressuring the opposition. That brought a breakthrough in the ninth minute when Foo placed a Lockhart pass over Arsenije Rankovic’s glove. Chelios then doubled the lead with a characteristic point shot.
The middle frame followed a similar pattern. China dominated the play – by the end of the game, the shot was 58-15 in our favor – and added two more goals. Ye Jinguang (Brandon Yip) set up Kane for a one-timer to make it 3-0, then Lockhart added a fourth just before the intermission.
Rankovic sat out the third period, with Akim Padalica taking his place in the Serbian net. The change had little impact on the pattern of play, with China continuing to press and Serbia scrapping for such possession as it could find. Fram completed the scoring late on with a wrister.
Today’s victory secures China’s position in Division IB, no small achievement for a newly-promoted team. But with one more game to come, against host nation Estonia on Saturday, there is still more for the Dragons to take from this tournament. A medal is still within reach and, more importantly, there are further opportunities to learn about the international game.
“We’ll go out the same way on the last day,” Chelios added. “We’ve got to use this tournament to just get better as a team. There aren’t too many of these kind of games for us throughout the year, every game counts, so we have to play the right way.”
Saturday’s other games see Serbia play the Netherlands in a likely relegation decider before Japan faces off against Ukraine in a meeting that could determine the gold medal and promotion.