It took 19 years, but the South Korean women’s national ice hockey team has finally won their first match –big time!
The team is currently ranked 23rd in the world out of 38 countries and beat Thailand with a resounding 20-0 win on Saturday in the first match game of the round-robin stage at the Asian Winter Games being held in Sapporo.
The 20 goals came on a whopping 108 shots, compared to a meager one shot for Thailand.
According to The Guardian, the celebration was, unfortunately, short:
While they followed their historic triumph (on Saturday) with Monday’s 3-0 loss to Japan and Tuesday’s 1-0 setback against Kazakhstan, South Korea can earn a bronze medal with a victory over 16th-ranked China on Thursday at Tsukisamu Gymnasium.
A podium spot would represent a giant leap forward for a team that went winless in each of the four Asian Games it had previously entered, scoring only four goals in 15 games. The nadir was a 29-0 defeat to Japan in Changchun a decade ago.
“At the time, Japan had 136 shots on target, and we couldn’t get past their offense line,” Shin So-jeong, the team’s longtime goaltender, told the Korea Joongang Daily. “My entire body was bruised from blocking pucks coming at an average speed of 100kph [60mph], but what hurts most is when others talk about our team in negative ways.”
Japan goaltender Nana Fujimoto had nothing but praise for the South Korean side after Monday’s hard-fought contest, which offered a preview of next year’s assured group-stage clash at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
“They are so much better than they used to be,” Fujimoto told the Mainichi. “They came out with an underdog mentality. They have a solid system and they executed it well. They have some girls who can really skate. We’ve got a year to go and we are going to have to get stronger, because they certainly will.”
American coach Sarah Murray told Yonhap:
“We’re showing people that we’re not being given this great present to go to the Olympics. We’re showing more and more that we’ve earned it and that we deserve to be there. I think the players are starting to realize that we’re not going to the Olympics just to enjoy the experience. … We want to win and surprise people and show what Korean hockey can do.”