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China remains unbeaten after commanding Para Hockey Worlds win over Norway

Three-goal third period leads Paralympic bronze medalists to 5-1 victory

If you heard a hockey team didn’t register their first shot on goal until five minutes remained in the second period, odds are you’d think the game was an absolute blowout.

Not so fast.

While that’s the situation Team Norway found themselves in against World Para Hockey Championship medal hopeful Team China on Monday afternoon, things were exceptionally close at that point, with China nursing a 1-0 lead.

A three-goal third period would lead to China pulling away once and for all, though, and they’d go on to a 5-1 win at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

“They’re fast and highly skilled and we just tried to play a defensive game and limit their opportunities and hope we got some good goaltending, which we definitely had tonight,” said Norway coach Ken Babey. “So for me as a coach against a team like China, we just wanted to give a strong effort, show courage and stay in the battles right to the end, and I thought we did that. China is going to be a force to handle the rest of the way.”

With the kind of pressure China was generating throughout the first two periods, without a solid showing from netminder Andreas Sundt, things could have gotten out of hand in a hurry. Sundt would turn aside 28 shots total, which while not an overly busy game, still featured plenty of difficult saves.

“It was a lot on my teammates,” Sundt said of keeping things close for so long. “They fought very hard, and in the first and second period the saves were very easy for me. They did most of the work and I just laid down and let it hit my legs.

“It was a very fun game. I think we played really well, but China is very fast and have a lot of good players, so it was a bit too difficult but still very good for our guys.”

China head coach Jin Xian Xu admitted that the lack of finish was a bit of a concern in the early going, even if things did turn out fine in the end.

“One of our strategies is to use our speed, and today I found out that even though we have quite a few attempts, we’re not getting as many points as we’re expecting,” he said. “When they are in defensive mode, it’s hard to get to the goal, so we used a strategy of pulling them away from the goal and taking longer shots and try and score that way.”

There was the added factor that the two teams hadn’t faced one another before in international play.

“During last night’s game between Norway and Germany, we were watching the game and found that one of the characteristics of Norway is that their team speed was a bit slower than our team’s and we used that as a strategy,” Jin said.

As per usual Shen Yi Feng led China’s assault, putting up two goals and three points, giving him six goals and eight points in his first two games. Wang Zhi Dong scored a pair, while Zhang Zheng added a goal and an assist. Li Hong Gang and Lyu Zhi tacked on two helpers each.

Goaltender Wang Wei didn’t have much to do in the first half of the game, but had eight saves when things were all said and done.

Loyd Remi Solberg scored the lone goal for Norway with 48 seconds remaining in the game.

China next faces Germany at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, while Norway is back on the ice against Italy at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

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