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Ice Hockey: Japan win as unified Korea enjoy special moment

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – Japan carried the day on Wednesday when the long-time nationwide rivalry with North Asian neighbors North and South Korea spilled on to Olympic ice, beating Korea’s unified ladies’s ice hockey group Four-1 in a recreation of firsts for each groups.

For the Japanese, it marked their first Olympic win in ladies’s ice hockey. The Koreans, in the meantime, discovered the again of the online for the primary time to ship the world wild.

Randi Heesoo Griffin took a go from Park Yoonjung and fought her means up the correct wing earlier than sending the puck towards Japan goaltender Akane Konishi and watching it dribble between her pads.

“I‘m definitely not a hero,” stated Griffin, one in every of half a dozen North American gamers with Korean heritage within the group. “It was a pretty crappy goal that took a couple bounces and went into the net.”

When Korea lastly scored nearly precisely midway by way of the sport, the gang erupted with a roar and waved 1000’s of white and blue unification flags.

“It was so loud after Randi scored, we couldn’t even hear each other talk on the bench,” Korea coach Sarah Murray stated.

“We kind of gave each other a hug and then got refocused, ready for the next shift.”

It was simply essentially the most evenly matched recreation the 2 groups have performed, particularly Korea who had been outscored by Eight-Zero margins in each earlier video games.

Japan opened the scoring slightly over a minute into the sport when Hanae Kubo one-timed a go in entrance of the online previous Korean goalie Shin So Jung.

Ice Hockey – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Women Preliminary Round Match – Korea v Japan – Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea – February 14, 2018 – Korea group bows after recreation with Japan. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

AShoko Ono scored on the powerplay, knocking dwelling a rebound on a shot from Shiori Koike, Japan’s Koike supplied an insurance coverage objective late within the third interval and Rui Ukita put away an empty netter with a few minute left.

“It is very special to win against Korea, and I feel really great, especially considering the fact that we came here as an away team and we still won,” Japanese captain Chiho Osawa stated.

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The occasion was rife with political and cultural overtones, with followers waving flags depicting a unified Korea, some exhibiting the disputed Japanese islands of Dokdo. Tensions have lengthy simmered between the 2 nations following Japan’s colonization of the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

Japanese followers began chants of “Let’s go Japan”, solely to be met with Korean chants of “You are doing great Korea” and “Let’s win Korea”.

”There’s a whole lot of historical past between our nations, however that is sports activities. People have all been very pleasant towards me. Let’s all simply enjoy the sport,” stated Japanese spectator Osamu Funatsu, 46.

The Korean ladies’s group have turn into a showcase on the Olympics because it was determined to incorporate 12 gamers from the North on the roster.

“It’s too bad that the joint team didn’t have much time to practice together, but the idea itself I thought was good,” stated Ra Jong-tae, a South Korean public sector official from Sejong City.

North Korea’s cheerleading squad was available for a 3rd straight recreation, scattered in teams of a number of dozen across the enviornment and clad in purple tracksuits.

At the tip, followers showered the ice with delicate toys as the Korean gamers bowed to their coaches.

The recreation marked the tip of the street for each groups’ quests for an Olympic gold medal. The two now proceed to the classification spherical, enjoying towards losers of the quarter- last video games.

Writing by Dan Burns; Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim, Elaine Lies, Steve Keating, Hyunjoo Jin, James Pearson and Grace Lee; modifying by Ed Osmond

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