Calgary 2024: Korea complete comeback to claim fifth place against Slovakia

Italy defeat Japan to finish in seventh place at this year's World Championships A-Pool in Canada 12 May 2024
Two Para ice hockey players trying to reach the puck
South Korea beat Slovakia 3-1 to take the fifth place at the Calgary 2024 World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool
ⒸErica Perreaux / Hockey Canada Images / WPIH
By Stuart Lieberman | For World Para Ice Hockey

South Korea completed a comeback against Slovakia to claim fifth place and Italy defeated Japan for seventh place on Saturday (11 May) at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships A-Pool in Calgary, Canada.

Both placement games at WinSport Arena were nail-biting, close contests highlighted by tough defensive play.

Korea 3, Slovakia 1

After falling behind early, Korea came back on the sharp-shooting hands of star forward Seung-Hwan Jung to beat Slovakia, 3-1, and take fifth place in the tournament.

At 5:19 into the game, though, it was Robert Turic who skated straight through the crease to score his first goal and first point of the tournament to give Slovakia the early lead.

But then Jong-Ho Jang and Seung-Hwan Jung scored back-to-back goals within an eight-second span in the second stanza — with Jung’s goal coming right off the face-off after the previous goal — to tie it up and put Korea on top.

Jung, a four-time Paralympian who lost his leg at age five, added an insurance goal, unassisted, with one second remaining in the game. He finished the week with a team-leading eight points.

Korean goaltender Hyuk-Jun Choi had 12 saves in 45 minutes of play to wrap up a 2.99 goals against average in the tournament. Slovakian netminder Eduard Lepacek, who played all but four minutes in the tournament, stopped the puck 13 times.

This marks Korea’s second straight fifth-place finish in the A-Pool, while Slovakia’s sixth-place finish is the highest in the team’s history since the programme began. 

Italy 1, Japan 0

Earlier in the day, with less than four minutes remaining in a scoreless game, three-time Paralympian Christoph Deapoli found that net off a helper from Gianluigi Rosa to push Italy to a 1-0 win over Japan and secure seventh place. 

Italy outshot Japan, 28-12, with Matteo Remote Marnini and Rosa each having six shots on goal for the winning side. 

Santino Stillitano, age 54, grabbed the shutout for Italy between the pipes with 12 saves, finishing the tournament with 51 saves and an 85.00 save percentage. Wataru Horie had 27 saves for Japan.  

Italy’s seventh-place finish ties its lowest finish at the A-Pool level, having also finished seventh in 2021. The next Paralympic Winter Games host nation will now be relegated to the B-Pool. 

After winning last year’s World Championships B-Pool, Japan was back in the A-Pool for the first time in five years, but will now return to the B-Pool for 2025.

What’s coming on Day Six? 

The final day of competition on Sunday (12 May) is expected to bring thrilling gold and bronze-medal games to cap off the week in Calgary. The USA and Canada will face off for gold for the seventh consecutive time at 17:30 local time, with the USA playing for a record-extending seventh world title and Canada skating for its first title since 2017. The bronze-medal game between Czechia and China will precede that at 13:30, as Czechia goes for its second straight bronze and China seeks its first A-pool podium finish.

How to follow?

Watch all the action across World Para Ice Hockey Facebook page, and on the Paralympic Games YouTube.