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Imoo Gives Japan 2-2 Draw With Belarus

Associated Press
Tuesday, February 10, 1998; 2:59 a.m. EST


NAGANO, Japan — Dusty Imoo made 42 saves, including one on a shot by Viktor Karachun from just outside the crease with five minutes remaining, to give Japan a 2-2 tie with championship round-bound Belarus Tuesday.

The Canadian-born Imoo repeatedly dived and sprawled in the crease for Japan, which scored on two of its four power-play opportunities. And Japan's penalty killing prevented Belarus from converting any of six chances with the man advantage.

The highly-partisan crowd cheered and chanted for every dramatic save by Imoo, whose teammates were outshot 44-19, including 13-1 in the final period.

The game had little impact on the standings. Belarus (2-0-1) already had clinched a berth in the final round, when NHL stars begin play, while Japan (0-2-1) had been eliminated.

Belarus will face Russia on Friday in its opening match of the final round, while Japan will take on the fourth-place team in Group A on Thursday for last place.

Defenseman Oleg Romanov gave Belarus the lead at 12:36 of the first but Matthew Kabayama tied it with 58 seconds left in the period by snapping a low wrist shot past goalie Alexander Shumidub from just inside the blue line.

Belarus retook the lead at 10:32 of the second when Igor Matushkin's clearing pass bounced off the boards and into the path of Vadim Bekbulatov, who skated in alone and beat Imoo through the pads.

Japan tied it a second time at 14:23 of the second when Ryan Kuwabara knocked in a backhander at the near post.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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