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(LEAD) N. Korea stuns Britain for 1st win at women's hockey worlds in S. Korea

All Headlines 19:25 April 05, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS details, photos)
By Yoo Jee-ho

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, April 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea stunned Britain 3-2 in overtime for its first win at the women's hockey world championships in South Korea on Wednesday.

North Korea, ranked 26th, squandered a 2-0 lead in the third period before Jin Ok netted the overtime winner to beat No. 21 Britain at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province.

North Korean players Jin Ok (R on ice), Kim Un-hyang (No. 4) and Won Chol-sun celebrate their 3-2 overtime victory over Britain at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 5, 2017. (Yonhap)

North Korea lost to Australia and the Netherlands earlier in the tournament. At last year's world championships, Britain had blanked North Korea 7-0.

This year's tournament, doubling as a test event for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, also features host South Korea (No. 23), the Netherlands (No. 19), Slovenia (No. 24) and Australia (No. 28). The top nation after 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.

North Korea wasted three power-play chances in the scoreless first period, when the teams each put 10 shots on goal.

After a dull stretch, North Korea broke the scoreless deadlock with a short-handed goal at 17:54 in the second period.

Taking advantage of Britain's neutral zone turnover, Jong Su-hyon went on a breakaway. Goalie Nicole Jackson stopped the initial shot, but Jong scored on her own rebound.

Jong Su-hyon of North Korea (C) scores past Nicole Jackson of Britain (R) during their game at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 5, 2017. (Yonhap)

North Korea doubled the lead just two minutes into the third period, this time scoring on a power play. Jin Ok settled behind the British net and fed defenseman Won Chol-sun, who snuck in through the defense for a one-timer from between the face-off circles.

Just when North Korea appeared headed for its first win here, Britain woke up with two goals in 56 seconds.

Angela Taylor first cut the deficit in half with a wrist shot from the right face-off circle at 9:53. Then at 10:49, Leanne Ganney went on a breakaway when defenseman Kim Nong-gum was caught flat-footed in her own zone and beat So Jong-sim to make it a 2-2 affair.

Britain could have sealed the deal with 1:05 left to play, but Katie Henry was stoned by So on a 2-on-1 chance.

Then 1:59 into overtime Jin ended the game by poking home a loose puck near the crease after a mad scramble.

Britain outshot North Korea 35-29 in the losing cause.

Kim Nong-gum of North Korea (L) battles Georgina Farman of Britain for the puck during their game at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 5, 2017. (Yonhap)

Won, who forms the top defensive pair with Kim Nong-gum, was named the North's best player of the game after notching a goal and an assist.

For the third straight game, North Korea enjoyed the raucous support of South Korean fans. A local civic group assembled a cheering group of some 300 members who have attended every North Korea game while dressed in the same hooded sweatshirts bearing the Korean Unification Flag, an image of the whole Korean Peninsula in blue.

North Korean players have refused to speak to the South Korean press after games here, and Wednesday was no exception. A few players waved at cameras as they passed through the mixed zone.

Han Ho-chol, a team manager who has been the de facto spokesman for North Korea, thanked the South Korean fans for their support.

"We're appreciative of those who gave us enthusiastic cheers," Han said. "It helped the team a great deal. Thank you."

The North Korean delegation of 20 players and 10 officials made the cross-border trip amid tensions on the peninsula, stemming from a series of North Korean provocations and its threat of a nuclear test. Earlier Wednesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea, apparently to test its missile technology and time it before the U.S.-China summit.

The all-Korea hockey showdown looms at 9 p.m. Thursday at Gangneung Hockey Centre. South Korea is three spots above North Korea in the world rankings, and has won its first two games prior to Wednesday's nightcap against Australia.

South Korea has been impressive in both of its wins and based on the two nations' play so far, South Korea may beat North Korea handily.

At last year's world championships, South Korea prevailed 4-1.

Asked about the much-anticipated matchup, Han simply said, "We'll just go out there and play."

North Korean players line up on the ice for the raising of their flag and the playing of their national anthem after beating Britian 3-2 at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 5, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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