PyeongChang 2018: South Korea ready to spring surprise

Win over USA in Group B decider will see team avoid world champions in semis 13 Mar 2018 By IPC

A fantastic atmosphere is expected once again at the Gangneung Hockey Centre when hosts South Korea face defending Paralympic champions USA on Tuesday (13 March) to determine Group B´s winner and runner-up at PyeongChang 2018.

Following consecutive victories against Japan 4-1 and Czech Republic 3-2, South Korea has secured its place in the Para ice hockey Paralympic semi-finals for the first time. But led by forward Seung-Hwan Jung and goaltender Man-Gyun Yun, they dream of making further history.

The USA does not want to abdicate its throne and will go for its third successive triumph in PyeongChang after smashing 10-0 wins versus Japan and Czech Republic. The team last faced the hosts at this same venue at the 2017 World Championships, with the North Americans taking a 5-0 victory.

Neither of them surely want to play against reigning world champions Canada in the semi-finals, who finished as clear leader of Group A. South Korea´s Jung Seung Hwan said: “The USA are a stronger team than us and have great skills.

“We will take a different approach when playing against them than when facing Japan or Czech Republic. We have something prepared, so people should expect something from us.”

US player Declan Farmer added: “I heard it is a sold-out crowd. Even though they will be cheering against us most of the time, we want to feed off from that energy. There are not many chances to play in front of so many people and it will be an exciting atmosphere.”

Italy finished as runner-up in Group A and secured qualification for the semi-finals after two much-celebrated victories over Norway 3-2 and Sweden 2-0.

The latter two will now play against each other to decide the third and fourth place in the group. Sweden is hoping to outdo its performance from Sochi 2014, when it ended in eighth position. Norway, on the other hand, will not be able to contest the bronze medal game like four years ago but is still hoping to finish as high as possible in the standings.

The team who wins will get an easier tie in the next round and boost its chances of claiming fifth place at the Paralympic Winter Games.

Czech Republic and Japan will close the day. They are both aiming to secure their first win at PyeongChang 2018 to finish third in Group B and face Group A´s bottom team in the following stage.

The Czech are coming off a smashing defeat to the USA and need a speedy recovery to at least repeat Sochi 2014's fifth place. Japan conceded 14 goals over the first two games in its return to the Winter Paralympics following its absence four years ago, and will need to improve their defence in order not to finish bottom of the Group.

Tickets for PyeongChang 2018 can be purchased here.

Every competition as well as the Closing Ceremony can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.