The first game of the 2015 Winter Universiade was a close one between two Asian rivals, as a late goal by Kazakhstan with two minutes to go ended up being the winner in a 3-2 victory over Japan.

It would take until the second period for the Japanese to begin the scoring. Chuo University’s Makuru Furuhashi got the ball rolling three minutes into the period with a shot that beat Mikhail Smolnikov for the 1-0 goal. Furuhashi is considered to be one of the best young Japanese prospects, and after recording 17 points in four U20 Challenge Cup of Asia games back in 2012, there is no question why. 

The lead wouldn’t hold on for long, however. Renat Safin tied the game up at one for Kazakhstan after converting a pass from Vyacheslav Fedossenko into a nice goal in close. A bit more pressure would allow the Kazakhs to take the lead before the end of the second period as a late marker by German Nesterov gave the boys in blue the one goal advantage heading into the final break.

The third period featured a very close second half. With six minutes left, Japan’s Hikaru Satoh gave the Kazakh’s a big scare by tying the game up at two. Kazakhstan was desperate to battle back and eventually, a goal by Ilya Kovzalov with two minutes to go sealed the deal for the pre-game favourites. 

The opening game by the Japanese proved to be a good one, even if the game resulted in a loss. At the most recent Universiade, back in 2013, Japan’s effort resulted in an 11th place finish, defeating Great Britain by a score of 7-2 in the last place game. Kazakhstan, on the other hand, lost 6-2 to Canada at the gold medal game last year, resulting in their fourth tournament medal since the event first began back in 1962.

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