South Korea and RPC advanced to the semi-finals at the 2021 World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Wednesday (23 June), and in doing so both booked their tickets to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
The semi-final matchups are now set in Ostrava for Friday (25 June), with South Korea slated to take on defending Paralympic and world champions USA and the RPC scheduled to challenge reigning Paralympic and silver medallists Canada.
South Korea advanced to its third consecutive semi-final appearance at the World Championships with a nail-biting 2-1 overtime victory over Norway.
In the day’s quarterfinal action, Byeong-Seok Cho, a former wheelchair fencer, hit a slap shot to the back-right corner of the net 4:39 into the first period to give South Korea the early advantage. The rest of regulation play was a tightly fought defensive contest until Norway’s two-time Paralympian Martin Hamre split two defenders in the crease to even the score with five minutes remaining and force overtime.
It took less than five minutes into the overtime for PyeongChang 2018 star Seung-Hwan Jung to do what he does best – score a game-winning goal under pressure.
South Korea’s Jea-Woong Lee was the winning goaltender with eight saves, and Johan Groenlie had 10 stops for Norway.
“I really appreciate each one of my team members and coaches working together to make this happen,” South Korea’s assistant captain Cho said. “I think we will try our best now to win a medal here and at the Beijing 2022 Paralympics.”
RPC 7, Czech Republic 0
Earlier in the day in the first quarterfinal, the RPC defeated the host nation 7-0 with goals from six different players, including two from Konstantin Shikhov, who was a former wrestler before losing his legs. The team will be returning to the semifinal round for the first time at the World Championships since 2015.
Against the Czech Republic, Shikov struck first in the opening period, swiping a pass from Nikolai Terentev on the power play to give the RPC a lead that would hold the rest of the game. Andrey Sokolov, captain Dimitrii Lisov and Terentev added goals to round out the first period scoring. Terentev’s short-handed score was his team-leading eighth goal of the tournament.
The RPC did not back down in the second, as Dmitrii Galkin found the net on the power play and Airat Khamzin tallied his fifth score of the tournament. Shikhov then added a final goal – also his fifth of the event – with 22 seconds left in the game.
Andrei Kasatkin had five saves between the pipes for the RPC, while the Czech Republic’s Martin Kudela recorded 17 saves. In Ostrava, the RPC has now outscored its opponents 41-1.
“This was just straight teamwork,” Terentev said of the RPC’s victory. “We are happy in the moment right now because we haven’t been at the top of this sport for some time.”
The Czech Republic will now challenge Norway for fifth place at the tournament and the final Beijing 2022 qualification spot up for grabs in Ostrava.
Italy 4, Slovakia 0
Italy picked up its first win of the World Championships in its final game with a 4-0 victory over Slovakia to clinch seventh place.
Veteran defenders Gianluigi Rosa, Andrea Macri and Florian Planker all scored for Italy in the game, along with up-and-coming forward Nils Larch. Both Italy and Slovakia will have one more chance to qualify for Beijing 2022 at the Paralympic Qualification Tournament later this year.
The World Para Ice Hockey Championships run from 19-26 June, with the top eight-ranked teams competing for a world title and five Paralympic qualification spots for Beijing 2022.
All games are being streamed live on World Para Ice Hockey’s website and Facebook page with geo-block restrictions in Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia and USA.
The tournament consists of three days of preliminary pool play followed by two days of playoff matchups and then the medal round. Full results and statistics are available at the Ostrava 2021 microsite.