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S. Korea routs Slovenia to start women's hockey worlds

All Headlines 23:26 April 02, 2017

By Yoo Jee-ho

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, April 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea defeated Slovenia 5-1 in its first game at the women's hockey world championships on home ice Sunday.

Forwards Choi Ji-yeon and Jo Su-sie each had a goal and an assist for the winning start at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province.

The arena is one of two competition venues, along with Gangneung Hockey Centre, in the city located some 230 kilometers east of Seoul. The tournament is also a test event for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The tournament also features the Netherlands (No. 19), Britain (No. 21), North Korea (No. 26) and Australia (No. 28). The top nation after the round-robin play will be promoted to Division I Group B next year, while the last-place nation will be relegated to Division II Group B in 2018.

South Korea finished second at last year's Division II Group A competition in Slovenia.

Earlier Sunday, Australia defeated North Korea 2-1, and the Netherlands edged out Britain 5-4.

Coached by former U.S. college standout Sarah Murray, South Korea, No. 23 in the IIHF rankings, thoroughly outplayed 24th-ranked Slovenia from start to finish, outshooting the opponent 78-12.

Kim Hee-won of South Korea (C) celebrates her goal against Slovenia at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 2, 2017. (Yonhap)

South Korea got on the board first at 4:36 in the opening frame, taking advantage of a Slovenian defensive breakdown.

South Korea kept the puck deep in the offensive zone, and a poor clearing attempt by Slovenia created a rare three-on-none opportunity. Forward Choi Ji-yeon fed wide-open linemate Kim Hee-won for a one-timer past goalie Ines Confidenti.

Slovenia tied the score about four minutes later, and it was the South Korean defense that suffered a fatal lapse.

After Slovenia lobbed one toward the net, goalie Han Do-hee, normally a backup who got the starting nod over Shin So-jung, couldn't quite corral the loose puck in a mad scramble around her. Eva Dukaric was then left all alone at the top of the crease to poke home the rebound.

South Korea outshot Slovenia 29-7 in the first 20 minutes, and the host kept the pedal to the metal in the second period.

The efforts paid off in the form of the go-ahead goal by Jo Su-sie at 7:06. After staying in the offensive zone for a long stretch, Eom Su-yeon floated a shot from the right point, and Jo deftly deflected the puck into the net.

South Korea extended the lead with a power-play goal at 11:24 by Choi Ji-yeon, who banged home the rebound after Marissa Brandt's point shot.

Jo Su-sie of South Korea (L) battles Pia Merc of Slovenia for the puck at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 2, 2017. (Yonhap)

Danelle Im -- a Toronto native with Korean parents -- then made it 4-1 at 7:32 in the third on a breakaway, taking a nifty pass from Randi Griffin, born in the United States to a Korean mother and an American father.

Im and Griffin are among the foreign-born players of Korean descent that the government here has fast-tracked to South Korean citizenships, hoping to boost the national team's competitiveness ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics on home ice. South Korea has received an automatic berth as the host nation.

First-line forward Park Jong-ah followed up by scoring on a rebound off a Park Chae-lin shot at 9:09, putting South Korea up 5-1.

Slovenia dressed only 15 skaters -- nine forwards and six defensemen -- while three players sat out with undisclosed reasons.

South Korea had a youthful squad of eight teenagers among 22 players, and every player except injured forward Caroline Park returned from the squad that finished fourth at the Sapporo Asian Winter Games in February. It was the country's best performance at the continental event.

South Korea's second line of Choi Ji-yeon, Kim Hee-won and Jo Su-sie combined for three goals and two assists.

South Korea's next game is against Britain at 9 p.m. Monday.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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