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Japan and Kazakhstan Split Golds of Asiad Ice Hockey
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Japan's men ice hockey team defended their title while Kazakhstan retained the women's gold in the Winter Asiad at the 6th edition in Changchun, Northeast China on Saturday.


"I had told my players that our target here was nothing but to win the gold medal before we came here," said Toshiyuki Sakai, coach of Japan.


Japan came from behind to beat China 3-1 on Saturday and kept unbeaten in all five matches in the tournament.


"I was really satisfied with our performance in the match against Kazakhstan," said Sakai. "That was the key victory."


Japan edged out the Kazaks 3-2 thanks to a goal with less than nine minutes to go on Thursday.


Kazakhstan won over South Korea 8-1 to lock the second position, followed by South Korea and China.


However, Japan's women missed the chance to triumph in the Asiad for the first time by losing to Kazakhstan 1-2 in their final match on Saturday.


"It was a pity that we produced several chances in the third period but failed to score," said Kohichi Satoh, head coach of Japan's women team.


The Kazaks, the reigning champion and the second-ranked in Asia, took an early lead by two goals in the first period and resisted fierce attacks from Japan in the third period to secure the title.


"The Japanese team has been stronger than we met last time," said Sergey Solovyev, Kazaks' head coach, referring to the clash in last October when the Kazaks suffered a loss. "I would say that we won by luck today."


The Asian-topped China beat DPR Korea 6-3, taking an disappointing bronze medal.


The 6th Asian Winter Games is to be concluded on Sunday.


(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2007)

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