GANGNEUNG, Gangwon Province -- South Korea fell to world No. 1 Canada 4-0 for its third straight loss in the men's hockey tournament at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Sunday.
Christian Thomas, Eric O'Dell, Maxim Lapierre and Gilbert Brule scored a goal apiece early for Canada at Gangneung Hockey Centre, as South Korea wrapped up its Group A play with three losses. The team scored one goal and allowed 14. Canada, in pursuit of its third straight gold, advanced directly to the quarterfinals.
South Korea`s Park Woo-sang (L) and Lee Don-ku (2nd from R) go up against Canada during the teams` Group A match at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, during the Winter Olympics on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Despite the losing skid, South Korea still has a chance to stay alive in the tournament when it takes on Finland in the qualification playoffs. The puck drop is at 9:10 p.m. Tuesday at Gangneung Hockey Centre.
The 12 men's teams were divided into three groups of four, with the three group winners plus the best second-seeded team reaching the quarterfinals.
Sweden, the Czech Republic, Olympic Athletes from Russia and Canada have secured places in the quarterfinals.
After the preliminary round, teams bound for the playoffs were ranked based on their positions in their groups. The tiebreakers were the number of points, goal difference, goals scored and world ranking positions.
South Korea finished the preliminary round in last place as the only nation without a point.
Canada was in complete control of the game from early on and began peppering South Korean goalie Matt Dalton, a Canadian native, with shots from all over the ice.
The shots were 11-1 in favor of Canada in the opening five minutes. Dalton had to stand on his head on several occasions but finally cracked at 7:36 when Christian Thomas beat him high on the glove side on a mini-breakaway.
Defenseman Chay Genoway sprang Thomas free at center ice with a sweet stretch pass, and Dalton had no answer for the high snap shot.
Canada played an efficient cycling game down low and ran South Korean defenders into the ground with heavy forechecking.
But South Korea built some momentum with a pair of late power play opportunities in the second period. It also had a four-minute power play after defenseman Oh Hyon-ho got bloodied by the errant stick of Mason Raymond early in the second.
South Korean men`s hockey players bow to the crowd after falling to Canada 4-0 in the teams` Group A match. (Yonhap)
South Korea couldn't capitalize on it. Brock Radunske fed Kim Sang-wook at the top of the crease, but goalie Kevin Poulin denied him a goal.
Later in the same power play, Ahn Jin-hui had a glorious opportunity with a hard one-timer from the left face-off circle, but Poulin stretched his right pad just in time to keep the puck out of the net.
Midway through the period, South Korea almost got on the board on a lucky bounce. A dump-in by defenseman Kim Won-jun took a funny hop off the board and came back out toward the crease, with Poulin caught standing behind the net waiting to play the puck. But even with the net wide open, no South Korean was near the puck to bang it home.
South Korea managed to hold Canada without a shot in the opening seven minutes of the second period, but those missed opportunities came back to haunt the team, as Canada doubled the lead at 14:22.
It was Eric O'Dell who took advantage of a fortuitous bounce. Marc-Andre Gragnani's point shot hit the end board and popped right back toward the left side of the crease, and Dalton, who never saw the puck, moved to his left, allowing O'Dell to poke home the rebound through the gaping side.
Canada went up by 3-0 at 3:43 in the third period, with Maxim Lapierre beating Dalton through the five-hole with a soft shot from the right wing.
South Korea tried to keep things close, but Kim Sang-wook's holding penalty with 2:31 left in the game took the wind out of the team's sails.
Gilbert Brule scored on the ensuing power play to seal South Korea's fate.
The shots were 49-19 for Canada. (Yonhap)