Ostrava 2019: South Korea capture bronze

Czechs tie for best finish in front of a sold-out crowd 04 May 2019
By Stuart Lieberman | For World Para Ice Hockey

“We wanted to show the whole world our sport this week, and we did. I think everyone should see our sport because the life values in it are incredible.”

South Korea kept the momentum going after hosting last year’s Winter Paralympics with their second consecutive bronze-medal finish at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships on Saturday, while the Czech Republic had their best finish in seven years with fourth place.

South Korea defeated the Czech Republic, 4-1, to garner their third podium finish at a World Championships. They also took silver in 2012 and bronze in 2017.

In front of a sold-out crowd of 8,600 spectators, speedy forward Seung-Hwan Jung, a former PyeongChang 2018 Ambassador who almost left the sport after the Games, sparked South Korea to victory with a pair of goals.

In the first period, Jung swiped the puck just beyond the reach of Michal Vapenka’s goaltender stick 10:30 into the frame to give South Korea the early advantage.

Ju-Seung Lee, who is also on South Korea’s national wheelchair rugby squad, doubled his team’s lead early in the second period, scoring off a pass from Young-Sung Kim.

The Czechs registered seven shots in the frame and were able to convert on one of them when three-time Paralympian Zdenek Krupicka shoveled the puck up to the top post and it bounced nicely into the goal. But that would stand as the only Czech goal of the day.

Jong-Kyung Lee, who has a para ice hockey tattoo on his arm, added insurance for South Korea in the third period with the final score of the game.

Jae-Woong Lee was the winning goaltender after stopping 15 shots, as Michal Vapenka manned the net for the Czech Republic with 15 saves of his own.

“At the Paralympics in PyeongChang we put in a lot of endeavors, and we have tried to maintain our play since since,” Ju-Seung Lee said. “We just got the bronze medal, and it feels amazing. It’s hard to describe it. It’s just awesome.”

The Czech Republic finished the tournament in fourth place, tied for their best finish in history and also their best finish at the event in seven years.

Behind record-setting crowds, including a sold-out Ostravar Arena for most of the host nation’s games, the Czech Republic were able to advance to the semi-finals and show thousands of people the sport for the first time.

“We wanted to show the whole world our sport this week, and we did,” Czech head coach Jiri Briza said. “I think everyone should see our sport because the life values in it are incredible.”

You can catch videos, highlights and results on the Ostrava 2019 website.