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(Olympics) Joint Korean women's hockey team loses to Sweden 3-1 in pre-Olympic tuneup

All Headlines 20:20 February 04, 2018

INCHEON, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- The joint Korean women's hockey team fell to Sweden 3-1 in its only tuneup game before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Sunday.

With 18 South Koreans and four North Koreans in action, the joint team stood its ground and refused to get pushed around by the world No. 5. But Korea never quite recovered after allowing three goals in the first period, with South Korean winger Park Jong-ah producing the unified team's lone goal late in the opening frame.

South Korea faced Sweden in two friendly matches last July and lost those games 3-0 and 4-1.

In this photo by the Joint Press Corps, the joint Korean women's hockey team (in blue) and Sweden compete in an exhibition game at Seonhak International Ice Rink in Incheon on Feb. 4, 2018, ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

South Korea is ranked No. 22 in the world, three spots above North Korea. South Korea's 23 players and 12 athletes from North Korea have been training together since late January, but game rosters are set at 22 players -- 20 skaters and two goaltenders.

The two teams will actually clash again in their second group stage match in the Olympics on Feb. 14. The Korean team's first game is against sixth-ranked Switzerland next Saturday, and the finale is against world No. 9 Japan on Feb. 16.

In the Olympics, Korea head coach Sarah Murray must insert at least three North Koreans into her lineup, as per an inter-Korean agreement approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Against Sweden on Sunday, Murray put four North Koreans on ice -- forwards Jong Su-hyon, Ryo Song-hui and Kim Un-hyang, and defenseman Hwang Chung-gum.

Korea dodged a bullet early, when it committed back-to-back penalties about a minute into the game and killed off a 5-on-3 power play.

Goalie Shin So-jung came up huge during the penalty kill, stoning Pernilla Winberg and then Lisa Johansson in consecutive chances.

Anna Borgqvist had a short-handed breakaway a few minutes later, and Shin again made a key save to keep the game scoreless.

But Sweden finally solved the South Korean netminder with 3:45 left in the first period, when Rebecca Stenberg converted a perfect cross-seam pass from Hanna Olsson after a neutral zone turnover by Korea.

South Korean forward Park Jong-ah celebrates her goal for the joint Korean women's hockey team against Sweden in their exhibition game at Seonhak International Ice Rink in Incheon on Feb. 4, 2018, ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

Olsson got in on the scoring act herself about a minute later. Winberg secured the puck inside the left face-off circle after a botched Korean clearing attempt and made a pretty back pass between her legs to set up Olsson for Sweden's second goal.

Korea got a goal back with 1:38 left in the same period thanks to captain Park Jong-ah.

After securing the puck deep in her own zone, defenseman Park Chae-lin skated out to center and split the defense with a tape-to-tape pass to Park Jong-ah, who beat Minatsu Murase to the top shelf on the glove side.

The joy of getting the first goal barely lasted a minute, as Sweden restored its two-goal lead with 20 seconds left in the period.

Sweden forced a Korean turnover with strong forechecking, and Anna Borgqvist dug the puck out of a corner and found Erika Grahm for a one-timer that made it 3-1 for the visitors.

Korea managed to keep Sweden off the board in the second period, with Shin frustrating one Swedish attacker after another. But the Koreans spent way too much time in their own zone trying to keep Sweden at bay and couldn't quite muster counterattacks when they got the puck back.

Sweden remained firmly in control of the game in the third period, but the feisty Koreans held their ground and kept the score respectable.

Members of the joint Korean women's hockey team huddle around the net before their exhibition game against Sweden at Seonhak International Ice Rink in Incheon on Feb. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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