South Korea will be participating in the IIHF men’s World Championship for the first time in the country’s history next year when the tournament is played in Denmark.
Sanghoon Shin’s shootout goal against Ukraine clinched victory and helped South Korea grab second place in the Divison I – Group A standings, which meant promotion to the top division in 2018.
The last Asian team to play in the top division of the World Championship was Japan in 2004, so this is big progress for the hosts of next February’s Olympic Games.
“It’s very important for us [to be promoted]. We get to play against top-division teams and get this experience,” said South Korea’s head coach Jim Paek, who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins during his NHL career. “For many years we haven’t been able to play against such countries so it’s important to get this experience.”
The teams traded second period goals before needing a shootout to decide things. In order to earn promotion, South Korea needed a victory, and in the third round of the shootout, up 1-0, Shin clinched the win with a pretty move.
You can tell just how much this means to Paek, who took the job in 2014 with the objective to build a program in South Korea in time for the PyeongChang games. He’s had to pepper his roster with some North Americans, but the majority are natives as the country has invested resources into becoming a strong hockey nation.
“The next 12 months that are coming up will be something very special for Korean ice hockey,” said Michael Swift, who scored South Korea’s first goal in the shootout. “They’ve never been to the top [division]. We’re there now and we want to stay there. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
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