SPORTS

[PyeongChang 2018] Joint Korean hockey team smallest, youngest in women's tournament

By Yonhap
  • Published : Feb 11, 2018 - 14:41
  • Updated : Feb 11, 2018 - 14:41
In losing to Switzerland 8-0 in their opening game of the women's ice hockey tournament at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the joint Korean team got pushed around from start to finish while managing just eight shots on net.

In the aftermath, head coach Sarah Murray and her players blamed the disastrous performance on nerves.

None of this should have come as a surprise, for Korea is the smallest and youngest team in the women's competition.

With an average height of 160 centimeters for its 23 South Koreans and 12 North Koreans, the Korean team is the smallest among eight teams here. The Swiss players are, on average, 8cm taller.

Korean players Kim Se-lin (2nd from L) and Randi Heesoo Griffin (R) keep a Swiss player in check during the teams` Group B game of the women`s ice hockey tournament at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)

Japan, the only other Asian team in the tournament has an average height of 163 cm among its players.

The Koreans also constitute the lightest team at an average of 58 kilograms per player, 5kg lighter than the average Swiss and 10kg less than the Swedes. The Japanese are only slightly bigger at 59kg.

Korea is tied with the Olympic Athletes from Russia as the youngest team, with an average age of 22. The oldest Korean player is Han Soo-jin, 30, and she's the only one in her 30s. There are 10 teenagers on the squad, all of them from the South.

Smaller and less experienced than its first game opponent, Korea looked jittery from the puck drop and never found its groove.

The task won't get any easier, with Sweden, world No. 5, up next on Monday. Korea actually faced Sweden only a week ago in an exhibition game -- the first official game for the joint team -- and lost 3-1.

As a smallish team even before the teams were combined, South Korea's game was built around speed and quick puck movement. But against Switzerland, perhaps the sense of occasion got to the young players, as they just looked wobbly from the start. Switzerland's relentless forechecking didn't help.

But Korea head coach Sarah Murray is hopeful her players can bounce back for the remaining games.

"We had a good game against Sweden (last week). When we played Japan last year at the Asian (Winter) Games, we had a good game against Japan," Murray said, though both of the games resulted in a loss. "We definitely think we have a chance in the next two games. So we are forgetting about this game and moving forward."(Yonhap)