The odds are usually stacked against the team who recently earned promotion, but if Korea proved anything today after their 4-3 win over Estonia, it’s that age is a positive factor if you plan on advancing the hockey ladder.
If the first period was any indication, it appeared as though it was going to be a rough game for Estonia, but that wasn’t the case. However, Korea was able to take the 2-0 lead in the first after a 19-3 shot advantage. Doo Hyun Hwang got the game started with a wrist shot marker just three minutes into the first, one of two goals that didn’t come as a result of special teams. Yeong Jun Seo extended Korea’s lead in the second half of the opening frame with Esontia’s Denis Antonov in the box, who took an extra penalty for his team during a scuffle at 10:30 in the first.
Estonia’s quest to excite the 543 hometown faithful followers in attendance at the Tondoiraba Icehall began 20 seconds into the second. Down a man, Danil Fursa somehow picked off a passing attempt at the blue line and carried the puck down the ice, beating Kweon Young Kim below the glove on the breakaway. Estonia’s chance at an immediate comeback was spoiled with six minutes remaining in the second, as Sang Won Kim’s power-play marker regained Korea’s two goal advantage.
Estonia wasn’t ready to back down. Espoo Blues forward Nikita Smirnov, potentially one of the next big Estonian hockey stars, put his team within one with ten minutes to go on an unassisted effort. Two minutes later, Honeybaked goal scorer Vadim Vasjonkin tied the game up on the power-play with San Won Kim in the box, sending the game to overtime.
Just like the Lithuania/Romania game earlier in the day, overtime solved nothing. And just like that game prior, the shootout was decided after just the first miss. Korea was lucky enough to get a goal out of all three shooters, with Kyoung Jun Seo’s shot proving to be the game winner in the end as Korea finished the game with the exciting 4-3 victory.
It was a good start for the Koreans, who earned promotion from Division IIB just a year prior. Usually, that means the team would struggle in a tournament like this, but featuring a team that is made up of almost all 19-year-olds, it proves that experience is key at the World Juniors.
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