By Yoo Jee-ho – Yonhap News
South Korea may have lost to Sweden 3-0 in a women’s hockey friendly game Friday, but coach Sarah Murray still saw enough that pleased her.
Sweden, ranked fifth in the world, outshot the 22nd-ranked South Korea 40-13 at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul, in the first of their two friendly games. But Murray said her players still put in solid effort, despite the relative lack of preparation.
“There were opportunities where we showed we could really skate with them,” Murray said. “We could match their speed. We had some success in the offensive zone. It wasn’t like we didn’t generate any offense at all. When we were in the offensive zone, good things happened.”
Murray also praised South Korea’s forechecking in the neutral zone and the offensive zone. On the other hand, defense will need some shoring up to do. Two of the three goals were direct results of poor coverage.
“We need to improve our defensive zone (play),” she said. “I think we need to continue to get stronger physically. When we play against bigger teams, it’s hard to battle in corners when we need to match strength for strength.”
Murray separated two of her best forwards, Park Jong-ah and Han Soo-jin, for this game, after they enjoyed much success on the same line at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship Division II Group A tournament in April.
Murray said the decision was to ensure more depth up and down the lineup.
“We tried to put together a really fast line to shut down the other team’s first line. We thought they did pretty well,” Murray said of Park and her two linemates, Kim Hee-won and Grace Lee. “We tried to make next lines even and then we have a little bit more depth.”
The two nations will go at it for a second time at 3 p.m. Saturday at the same venue.