Ice Hockey: Korea falls to Sweden amid more unity displays

By Dan Burns and Hyunjoo Jin
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Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

Ice Hockey – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Women Preliminary Round Match - Sweden v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea – February 12, 2018 - Players of the Korean team acknowledge fans. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Dan Burns and Hyunjoo Jin

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Korea's unified women's Olympic hockey team suffered their second lop-sided defeat on Monday, as seven different players scored to lift Sweden to an 8-0 win on another night of jubilant displays of goodwill between the two Koreas.

While the scoreboard may not have suggested it, the Korean squad gave their fans far more to cheer about than during their pummeling by Switzerland in their Pyeongchang Games opener, with extended stretches of pressure and a number of quality scoring opportunities.

If anything, the crowd energy was even more electric than at Saturday's game, an 8-0 loss to the Swiss, attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong.

The Pyeongchang games have become a focal point of renewed diplomacy between the two Koreas, technically still at war after a 1953 armistice.

Chants of "We are one" echoed around the crowd of 4,244 at the Kwandong Hockey Centre. The spectators cheered loud and often for the Korean team, with roars of "Let's go!" and "Good job!" in unison erupting regularly throughout.

The festive atmosphere did nothing to slow down the Swedes on the ice, however.

Maja Nylen Persson put Sweden up 1-0 with a powerplay goal in the first period.

They added three more by goals by the end of the first period to carry a 4-0 lead into the intermission.

Korea had early chances too, with Randi Heesoo Griffin and Park Yoonjung - both raised in the United States - getting quality shots in on Sweden's Sarah Grahn.

Pernilla Winberg made it 5-0, charging in on the left wing and lifting the puck over Shin's right leg pad.

But the Koreans pushed back later in the period, bringing persistent pressure during a pair of powerplays.

The Swedes poured it on again in the third period, adding three more from Emma Nordin, Rebecca Steinberg and another from Winberg.

As on Saturday, Korea coach Sarah Murray played just three North Koreans - Kim Un Hyang, Hwang Chung Gum and Ryo Song Hui.

For a second straight game, North Korea's official cheerleading team was in attendance, decked out in red snow suits and red and white beanies.

"The North Korean beauties have come," one South Korean spectator said.

The Koreans next face their biggest Asian rivals Japan on Wednesday to conclude preliminary round play in the Olympic tournament. Japan fell in a 3-1 loss to Switzerland earlier on Monday, and both teams are 0-2 in Olympic play.

"The players are extra excited," Murray said. "They want to beat Japan. I think more than just the history of the two teams and the two countries, it's just that we want to be the best in Asia, and so the girls are looking forward to that."

(Reporting by Dan Burns, editing by Ed Osmond)