They may have lost the match, but the Japanese women’s ice hockey team still celebrated as if they won it. This is due to the fact that they have finally scored their first Olympic goal in 16 years through an unexpected long-range shot from Ayaka Toko, 33 seconds into the third period at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi on Tuesday.
The last time that the team, more popularly known as “Smile Japan”, scored a goal in Olympic competition was on February 11, 1998, when they lost to China 6-1 at their home turf during the Nagano Games. They were able to qualify then because they were the host nation. Their highly anticipated appearance here in the Sochi Games was the first time they’ve been in Olympic competition since 1998.
Toko’s goal was a shot from a distance that managed to go through heavy traffic on the ice past a surprised Russian goalkeeper to even things out at 1-1 after Russia had scored earlier. But the Russians managed to pull ahead, winning the match 2-1 and eliminating Japan from medal contention. However, some might say that Japan was unlucky in this match as late in the first period, they appeared to have evened things out with Russia when their keeper, Anna Prugova looked to have mishandled the puck and it crossed the goal line. But the referees did not award the goal to Japan as they believed the keeper had already covered it and they whistled the play dead.
[ via NBC Sports ]
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