S. Korea to Face Kazakhstan in 1st Olympic hockey 'Tune-up' Game

In this file photo taken Jan. 22, 2018, members of the South Korean men's national hockey team practice at Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)

By Yoo Jee-ho

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will face Kazakhstan in its first tune-up game ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the sport's national federation said Thursday.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) announced schedules for South Korea's tune-up matches before PyeongChang. After training for weeks at Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, the national team has relocated its base to Incheon, just west of the capital city.

Coached by former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman Jim Paek, South Korea, ranked 21st, will have its first pre-Olympic game against world No. 17 Kazakhstan at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Seonhak International Ice Rink in Incheon.

The two countries will go at it again at 9 p.m. next Monday. South Korea will host the 15th-ranked Slovenia at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8, also at Seonhak.

Then at 2 p.m. on Feb. 10, South Korea will face world No. 2 Russia at Anyang Ice Arena in Anyang, about 20 kilometers south of Seoul.

In the men's Olympic tournament, South Korea has been paired with Canada, world No. 1 and two-time reigning Olympic champion, along with No. 6 Czech Republic and No. 7 Switzerland in Group A.

South Korea hasn't won a game since beating Ukraine to wrap up the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship Division I Group A tournament in Kiev last April. South Korea lost all three games at the Austrian Cup in November and dropped three more matches at the Channel One Cup in December.

Paek will look to his top forward line, featuring two highly skilled brothers of Kim Ki-sung and Kim Sang-wook, to stop the losing skid. Kim Ki-sung has a point in all six losses, with a goal and seven assists, while Kim Sang-wook has a team-high three goals, along with three helpers in that span.

South Korea has just one win and 12 losses against Kazakhstan. That lone victory came at the IIHF World Championship Division I Group A tournament last year, with the Kim brothers combining for a goal and two assists in South Korea's 5-2 win.

At the Olympics, South Korea's first game is against the Czech Republic at 9:10 p.m. on Feb. 15 and followed by Switzerland at 4:40 p.m. on Feb. 17. Then at 9:10 p.m. the following day, South Korea will face Canada. All games will be at the Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, the city that will host all the ice events during the Olympics.

The 12 men's teams have been divided into three groups of four. The three group winners plus the best second-seeded team will reach the quarterfinals and will be joined by the winners of the qualification playoffs.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>

In this file photo taken Jan. 22, 2018, Jim Paek, head coach of the South Korean men's national hockey team, speaks at a press conference at Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap)
Tags

Latest PyeongChang 2018 News