South Korea has lost its fifth consecutive game at the men’s hockey world championship.
The 18th-ranked South Korea was blown out by the world No. 6 United States 13-1 in Group B action at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship in Herning, Denmark, on Friday (local time).
Forward Ahn Jin-hui gave South Korea its first lead of the tournament on a power play in the first period, before the US rallied with 13 unanswered goals, including five on power plays, at Jyske Bank Boxen. Chicago Blackhawks’ star Patrick Kane and Boston Bruins’ rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy each had two goals and three assists, while the US outshot South Korea 57-13.
The US extended its lead at the top of Group B with 13 points on three wins in regulation and two overtime wins. South Korea remains the only country in the eight-nation group without a win.
In previous games, South Korea, the lowest-ranked participant, lost to Finland (8-1), Canada (10-0), Latvia (5-0) and Germany (6-1).
This is the highest level of the IIHF’s world championships, and South Korea is playing there for the first time after earning a promotion with a runner-up finish at last year’s Division I Group A tournament.
But South Korea, coached by former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman Jim Paek, has looked thoroughly overmatched in every game and is almost certain to be relegated back to the second-tier event with two games left.
There are two groups of eight, and the last-place teams from each group will be sent down to Division I Group A in 2019. Since the IIHF adopted the current promotion-relegation system for its world championships in 2012, no team has survived the top competition a year after getting promoted from Division I Group A.
South Korea withstood early US pressure and goalie Matt Dalton made some key saves to keep the game tight in the opening moments. Then Ahn scored the game’s first goal on a power play at 5:23, as he slid home a rebound off a Kim Sang-wook point shot.
Ahn almost fanned on the shot, but got just enough of the puck to get it past Scott Darling in the American net.
But the lead lasted barely three minutes, as Anders Lee, a 40-goal man for the New York Islanders, buried a rebound after Dylan Larkin’s shot at 8:35.
Then the rout was on, as South Korea committed three consecutive minor penalties. First, it was Kim Sang-wook getting called for a hooking at 11:19, followed by high sticking by Oh Hyon-ho and a bench minor for too many men, simultaneously at 12:36.
These mishaps gave the US back-to-back 5-on-3 opportunities, and the Americans capitalized on both.
First, Patrick Kane banked the shot in off Dalton’s left arm at 12:56 for a 2-1 US lead. And 33 seconds later, Kane teed it up for McAvoy, whose one-timer from the left circle easily beat Dalton and gave the US a 3-1 cushion.
And with 44 seconds remaining in the opening period, McAvoy scored his second goal of the game, pouncing on a bouncing puck at the top of the crease.
The US fired 29 shots on the Korean net in the opening 20 minutes, its record for a single period at the world championships.
South Korea got on a four-minute power play early in the second period, after Shin Sang-hoon was bloodied by Sonny Milano’s errant stick. But it was the US that struck with a short-handed goal, as Derek Ryan beat Dalton high on the glove side on a 2-on-1 breakaway at 3:42.
It was the fourth short-handed goal allowed by South Korea in the tournament, more than any other country.
Blake Coleman made it 6-1 for the US by scoring on a 3-on-1 opportunity, and his goal at the 7:06 mark chased Dalton from the game.
Kane greeted the new netminder Park Sung-je with a power play goal at 8:41. Three minutes later, the US enjoyed its third two-man advantage of the game, and Kane set up Cam Atkinson for the team’s fourth power play marker for an 8-1 lead.
The Americans kept piling on with five goals by five different players in the third period, with Tage Thompson, Atkinson, Neal Pionk, Ryan and Milano getting in on the act.
South Korea’s next game will be against the 14th-ranked Denmark on Saturday, the third time South Korea will play on back-to-back days. Denmark and South Korea are separated by just four spots in the world rankings, but it will by no means be an easy contest for South Korea. On Wednesday, Denmark stunned Finland 3-2 with goalie Frederik Andersen, the No. 1 netminder for the Toronto Maple Leafs, making 33 saves. (Yonhap)