By Lucas Aykroyd – IIHF.com
The result puts both Sweden and Switzerland into Saturday’s quarter-finals. The Swedes are questing for their first Olympic medal since 2006’s silver. Outmatched if valiant Korea remains pointless through two games in its Winter Games debut.
Contrasting with Korea’s previous 8-0 loss to Switzerland, where the one-woman wrecking machine named Alina Muller tied single-game Olympic records with four goals and six points, the Swedes got scoring throughout the lineup.
Pernilla Winberg led the way with two goals and an assist, and Elin Lundberg added a goal and two assists. Emma Nordin notched a goal and two helpers. Maja Nylen Persson, Johanna Fallman, Erika Uden Johansson, and Rebecca Stenberg also scored for Sweden. Fanny Rask, Erica Grahm, and Emmy Alasalmi had two assists apiece.
Swedish goalie Sara Grahn had a far easier evening than Korean starter So Jung Shin. Grahn registered her first career Olympic shutout as shots favored Sweden 50-19.
A Korean proverb says: “At the end of hardship comes happiness.” Awaiting their last Group B game against winless Japan on Wednesday, the goalless hosts must hope that’s true. Sweden faces the Swiss in a showdown for first place in Group B that day.
It was another fantastically animated atmosphere at the Kwandong Hockey Centre with screams of anticipation from the crowd of 4,244 each time coach Sarah Murray’s team touched the puck. Murray made one roster change, substituting North Korean forward Song Hui Ryo in place of Su Hyon Jong, who carried the Olympic torch with captain Jongah Park at Friday’s spectacular opening ceremonies.
The squads of North Korean cheerleaders were in perfect sync again. Unfortunately the Korean penalty killers couldn’t say the same on the opening goal. One youngster’s pain was another gain.
At 3:42, the 16-year-old forward Heewon Kim – Korea’s youngest player – was sent off for roughing after a goalmouth scrum. It took just 18 seconds for the 17-year-old defender Nylen Persson – Sweden’s youngest player – to get the puck from Alasalmi and beat So Jung Shin with a low shot inside the goalie’s right post.
The Damkronorna kept coming. A couple of minutes later, Sabina Kuller waltzed in over the Korean blue line and knifed a backhand off the cross bar. At 9:47, Lundberg made it 2-0 with a slap shot that squeezed under the goalie’s arm and over the line.
Thirty seconds later, Sweden grabbed a 3-0 lead. Rask circled the net and centered a backhand pass to Fallman, whose hard one-timer found the twine.
The Koreans got a bona fide chance when Jingyu Lee came down the right side on a 2-on-1 to unleash a high zinger, but Grahn’s glove said no. Moments later, in a classic case of tit for tat, a Swedish 2-on-1 saw Lisa Johansson sending the puck across to Erika Uden Johansson, who banged in her own rebound for the fourth goal at 17:04.
In the second period, Winberg, who tied for the 2014 Olympic scoring lead with Finland’s Michelle Karvinen (seven points), stormed over the blue line and beat So Jung Shin with a nice forehand move to make it 5-0 at 4:08.
Korea generated good pressure during two subsequent power plays, but couldn’t get anything going beyond more screams from the crowd.
Sweden went up 6-0 at 1:09 of the third period when Nordin tipped in Lundberg’s high point shot. At 1:45, Winberg pivoted in the faceoff circle and her shot was accidentally deflected in by Korea’s Randi Heesoo Griffin. It was just that kind of night for the representatives of the Land of the Morning Calm.
On the rush, Stenberg converted Winberg’s beautiful cross-ice feed at 5:34 to round out the scoring at 8-0. A Swedish proverb says: “Attack is the best defence.” It was hard to argue with that here.