After years of struggling to finish better than second at the Division III World Championships, North Korea has finally experienced success with a 4-3 victory over Turkey on Sunday, earning promotion for the 2016 Division IIB World’s next year.
Turkey came into the tournament as the favourites. Having been relegated from Division IIB last April, Turkey had an extra bit of experience that they were hoping to carry on into this tournament. They did win all five games prior to the gold medal game on Sunday, pleasing the home crowd every single time they hit the ice.
Unfortunately for the hosts, however, North Korea was just as good. A younger team than the country has seen in the past, Korea finished the opening period with the 2-1 lead. Turkish forward Serkan Gumus gave Turkey the 1-0 lead just four minutes in, but goals by Chol Min Ri and In Hyok Kang, who scored with just one second left in the period, gave the team the advantage.
North Korea held onto the lead until the first minute of the third. This time, it was Serdar Semiz, who potted his ninth goal of the tournament to tie the game up at two. In all three periods of regulation, Turkey managed to take the most shots, so it was just a matter of time until they would pot the game tying goal. The scariest moment for the team came with just five minutes to go when Chun Rim Hong got his ninth goal in six games, giving his team the lead with just minutes to go.
They weren’t able to hold on to the lead before time ran out, however. The same guy who got the ball rolling for Turkey, Gumus, scored just two minutes later to help force overtime, meaning that the next team to score would earn the illustrious gold medal. Turkey may have been the more offensive team all game long, but it was Rim Hong who would end the game with a goal with just 11 seconds remaining, grabbing his tournament leading tenth goal of the tournament and taking the gold medal for North Korea.
Korea had struggled for the past few years. After three straight silver medals, considered to be disappointing for a nation that always seemed to be competitive at the Division III tournaments, North Korea finally was able to advance themselves to Division IIB for the first time since 2011. That year, however, the team was forced to withdraw due to a lack of funds, leaving them in Division III ever since.
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