Go to Contents Go to Navigation

S. Korea one win away from women's hockey world championship

All Headlines 15:34 April 07, 2017

By Yoo Jee-ho

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, April 7 (Yonhap) -- Thanks to a winning combination of opportunistic offense and strong goaltending, South Korea sits one win away from claiming its first women's hockey world title in four years.

Having won its first four games, South Korea is leading the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women's World Championship Division II Group A here in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul.

This is the fourth-highest level of the IIHF World Championships series, behind the Top Division, Division I Group A and Division I Group B. The winner of the six-nation tournament earns a promotion to Division I Group B next year, while the last-place team will be relegated to Division II Group B.

South Korea won the Division II Group B championship in 2013 to earn a promotion. After defeating Slovenia, Britain, Australia and North Korea in succession, South Korea will finally take another step up the ladder with a win over the Netherlands at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Kwandong Hockey Centre.

The Netherlands is the highest-ranked team here at No. 19, four spots above South Korea, and also has a perfect record with four straight wins. South Korea is ahead in goal difference, plus-16 to plus-nine.

South Korean players celebrate their 3-0 victory over North Korea at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

South Korea, the best team here so far on paper and on the ice, has run the table with an efficient offense. It leads all countries with eight power-play goals in 23 chances for the tournament-best success rate of 34.8 percent. Five of those goals came in the 8-1 rout of Australia. South Korea also leads the tournament with 19 goals overall.

Forward Park Jong-ah has a point in every game and is tied for the tournament lead with eight points on four goals and four assists.

On the other end, South Korea has killed all 12 penalties, and remains the only team not to have allowed a power-play goal in this tournament. The team has conceded just three goals in total, the fewest in the competition.

That's in large part thanks to goalie Han Do-hee. Normally a backup to Shin So-jung, Han has filled in nicely for the injured No. 1 goalie and made 26 saves to shut out North Korea 3-0 on Thursday.

Shin, who is dealing with a partial knee ligament tear, could be back in goal against the Netherlands, which has netted 17 goals to rank behind South Korea.

South Korean forward Park Jong-ah (L) controls the puck against North Korea at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on April 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

While the Dutch offense has done its share, they aren't exactly a speedy team that will blow past defenders. Their goaltending has also been shaky. Bianka Bos allowed four goals on just 12 shots against Britain, as the Dutch hung on for a 5-4 win. Lisa Daams allowed two against North Korea on 17 shots, and North Korea even built a 2-1 lead in the second period before falling 4-2.

If South Korea can stay sharp on offense, it should have little trouble scoring on the Netherlands.

Its defense is another matter. Though South Korea has limited the opponents to just three goals, the defense has been getting away with some sloppy plays on its own end. The three goals came on some preventable mental lapses.

Even against North Korea, South Korea was fortunate to walk away with the shutout in the face of some late pressure by the opposing forwards.

South Korea coach Sarah Murray said she had been concerned about the defensive zone play before facing North Korea because her team had been so dominant offensively that it hadn't spent much time in its own zone.

"We knew it was probably going to be our weak point because we hadn't had a lot of practice," she said. "In the offensive zone, we were playing our positions very well. And they kind of fell apart in the neutral zone and then the defensive zone. We need to make sure we're good in all zones to have success."

With her players coming off that emotional victory over North Korea in the most hyped-up game of the competition, Murray gave them a day off Friday. All four South Korean games have started at 9 p.m., which has forced players to eat their post-game meals well past 1 a.m. She said she wanted to give her players a mental break from hockey as well.

"For the last game, both teams are really skilled," she said. "It's going to come down to who has energy and who doesn't."

Mieneke de Jong of the Netherlands (R) battles Ryo Song-hui of North Korea 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 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

HOME TOP
Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!