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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: Does a unified team help Korea?

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More Olympic rosters, Ouellette returns to the CWHL, and the NWHL names their All-Stars.

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South Korean player Kim Se-Lin (in white) in a puck battle with North Korea’s Ryo Song-Hui. Could these women be teammates at Pyeongchang?
Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

Story of the Week

A united Team Korea has the world buzzing - The Ice Garden

S. Korea hockey coach says 'damage' inevitable if N. Koreans are added for Olympics

Switzerland raise concerns about pan-Korean ice hockey team at Pyeongchang 2018

South Korean Prime Minister apologises for "insulting" ice hockey team before Pyeongchang 2018 talks

IIHF President claims benefits of Pan-Korean ice hockey team outweighs risks

Together on the ice - Olympic - International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF

Unified Korean women’s hockey team to play warm-up game against Sweden on Feb. 4 : North Korea : News : The Hankyoreh

Joint hockey team coach gets wish with early arrival of N. Korea players

Before we get into what is going to be a rant on why having a Korean unified women’s hockey team is ridiculous and insulting to the sport in general and the South Korean team in particular, we want to add a disclaimer. We are neither of us of Korean heritage, nor are we Korean residents. It is entirely possible that from the perspective of people from either North or South Korea, including at least some of the players on both teams, the chance that this symbolic move might be enough to even slightly improve relations between the two countries makes everything worth it. From the outside though, the ROI looks dubious at best.

We’ve had some links about the rumours about a unified Korean women’s hockey team previously in WHW but to sum up:

Korea has been given permission to field a unified women’s hockey team. To do this they have been allowed 12 extra players beyond the 23 player limit. The 23 player South Korean team will be joined by 12 North Korean players. Only 22 players will be allowed on each gameday roster, and each roster must include at least three North Koreans. This is the only team sport in which the Koreans requested to do this.

Before the IIHF and IOC agreed to this plan, the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation publicly objected. While the plan is quite objectionable, their objection was that allowing the unified team to carry 35 players would be an unfair advantage.

Uh... Switzerland you do remember you’re bringing Florence Schelling and Lara Stalder and Alina Müller and on and on, yes? You’re the defending Olympic bronze medalists, have some dignity. South Korea is currently ranked 22nd in the world. North Korea is ranked 25th. Adding three North Koreans to the roster of each game is not going to improve the Korean team’s chances. A few weeks ago, that South Korea might win a game at the Olympics was not out of the question. Now if they win a game Melody Davidson and Hockey Canada should go knocking on Sarah Murray’s door.

IIHF president Rene Fasel told insidethegames.biz “The impact this decision will have is going to be so big for women’s hockey”. You know what this decision says? It says women’s hockey is so unimportant that four years of dedicated preparation and funding can be tossed by the wayside for the chance to pretend like North Korea’s actually’s open to reasonable discussion with anyone about anything. That’s big. It’s a big step backwards.

“I don’t intend to field the 12 athletes from North Korea on a rotating basis. I’m going to pick the good ones and play them.”

South Korean head coach Sarah Murray (cousin of Calgary Inferno’s Kelly Murray) has clearly got guts. That is a bold statement. It’s only one step up from my idea that one of the three North Korean players should be the backup goalie. Shin So Jung doesn’t exactly need the help, and a player’s a player.

It’s definitely good that none of the South Korean team are being told they can’t attend the Olympics. Still, Murray is being told, to some extent, who she must put on the ice. To defy that dictate, or even to do as she seems to be planning and only play a few of the North Koreans, may have serious geopolitical implications. It at least could give the North Korean politicians something to point at as an “insult”.

According to the official IOC announcement, any necessary technical equipment will be provided to the athletes by the IOC in cooperation with the International Federations, and will be made available on site. This sounds like it would benefit the North Koreans in some way, but from what we’ve heard over the last year, you can give the North Korean players all you want — they’re not going to be allowed to take it back home with them. Gifts from the South Koreans at last year’s Worlds, equipment during a tournament to replace their beat-up, broken gear... word is that players were told it all had to be left behind.

Another thing to consider is timing. The North Koreans are reportedly arriving for training on Thursday. The coaching staff hasn’t even figured out which North Koreans will actually make the team. That gives them barely two weeks to learn everything they need to know. This was sprung on both teams. I’m not even sure when the North Koreans last competed. Heck, how quickly will new jerseys be available?

The South Korean prime minister has already had to apologize for saying this decision won’t affect anything because the South Koreans had no chance at a medal. You know who else have no chance at a medal? The South Korean men’s hockey team. They’re ranked 21st in the world. Unlike the women’s team, they’re also full of white guys. The men’s tournament is already devalued by the lack of NHLers, why not mix the 39th ranked North Korean team in there?

Oh wait, we already know why.

We won’t get to see what the South Korean team would really have been able to accomplish at these Olympics. However, with the next Winter Olympics being in Beijing there’s a decent chance that they continue to develop their program over the next four years. And, unlike the higher ranked teams, South Korea will be competing in the Division I Group B World Championship this April, a group they advanced to just this year. Despite all the politics, the South Korean team may still be able to build on this experience and grow for the future.

International hockey

Swiss name 48 players - Olympic - International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF
The Swiss women’s national team, which won Olympic bronze four years ago in Sochi, includes three goaltenders, eight defenders and 12 forwards.

Smile Japan's here - International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF
The team nicknamed “Smile Japan” is a close-knit group.

Finland Announces Olympic Roster - The Ice Garden
23 players are headed to PyeongChang

Marie-Philip Poulin to captain Canadian Women’s Hockey Team at 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Meghan Agosta, Brianne Jenner and Jocelyne Larocque to serve as alternate captains in PyeongChang

First Nation player will be on defence at PyeoneChang, South Korea - Windspeaker - AMMSA
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from you can achieve your dreams.” —Brigette Lacquette

Veteran approach | Edmonton Examiner
As Shannon Szabados prepares for her third Olympic Games, she struggles to find a difference in her play between now and January 2010, the month leading up to her first Olympics.

China's Medal Quest
China will host the Winter Games in 2022. The CIHA began their plans nearly six years in advance.

CWHL making strides to grow league in China - Sportsnet.ca
Nikki Reyes explains how the CWHL is attempting to grow the game in China with help from current players and expansion.

Who Should Join The USWNT Player Pool After Pyeongchang? - The Ice Garden
With all eyes on the 2018 Olympics, who are some young players who might crack the USWNT down the road?

CWHL

CWHL’s Calgary Inferno sweep Vanke Rays from China | Calgary Sun
The Calgary Inferno have fired their way up the Canadian Women’s Hockey League ladder.

CWHL Recap: Makela and Fulton lead the Furies to a win - Pension Plan Puppets
Les Canadiennes were kept to two power play goals.

CWHL Recap: Furies take a beating, Thunder steal a point - Pension Plan Puppets
Three Toronto goals and a 43 save performance from Markham goalie Liz Knox were not enough for wins tonight.

Caroline Ouellette to return to Les Canadiennes this weekend - Eyes On The Prize
Three months after giving birth, Ouellette returns to action

Prevost happy to step on the ice again at home | Sarnia Observer
Carolyne Prevost and a few of her Toronto Furies teammates checked names Saturday morning on the Clarkson Cup while it was on display at Sarnia’s Progressive Auto Sales Arena.

Playing the game she loves | Sarnia Observer
Jessica Platt was at the big rink in her hometown Saturday morning, a week after posting a message on Instagram that made the Toronto Furies forward the first openly transgender athlete to play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

NWHL

NWHL Weekend Wrap
Two winning streaks in the NWHL were extended as the Beauts won their fourth straight and the Riveters remain undefeated with their 10th consecutive victory.

2018 NWHL All-Stars Announced - The Ice Garden
Amanda Leveille and Brittany Ott select their teams live on Twitter

5 Questions: Buffalo Beauts forward Kaylyn Schroka - Sports - The Daily Telegram - Adrian, MI - Adrian, MI
From 2013 to 2016, forward Kaylyn Schroka helped put the Adrian College women’s hockey program on the map.

Buffalo Hockey Fans Watching Games on Wrong Side of the Street
Of the two professional hockey teams in Buffalo, only one is worth watching right now, especially if you are planning to watch a game in person. Buffalo fans need to attend games on the right side of the street and check out the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts.

The Daily News | PRO HOCKEY: Batavia resident playing for Pegula-owned Beauts
For most of her life, Kourtney Kunichika has been playing hockey, in one form or another.

Metropolitan Riveters: Behind the Mask with Kimberly Sass
Kimberly Sass: "Art and architecture are very detail-oriented, and I think my personality is the same. I think that helps me out in terms of the geometry, the angles, challenging shooters, cutting down the angles."

NCAA

Polls: USCHO | USA Today | The Ice Garden

GOAL BY GOAL: BC Women’s Hockey Survives Vermont, Wins 3-2 In Overtime - BC Interruption
A win is a win?

Women’s hockey upsets No. 5 Minnesota – The Vermont Cynic
UVM women’s hockey went into Friday night’s game at No. 5 University of Minnesota struggling, having gone ten NCAA games without a win, but on the brink of making history. When they left the Ridder Arena ice, the streak was over and history was made.

NCAA women's hockey: Beanpot Tournament's 40th anniversary team announced | NCAA.com
College hockey’s Women’s Beanpot Tournament will unfold for the 40th time when teams from Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University and Northeastern University take the ice on Tuesday, February 6, at Boston College’s Conte Forum.

Women’s Hockey: No. 7 Ohio State sweeps No. 5 Minnesota with 5-1 win | The Lantern
The win marked the first series sweep of Minnesota in Ohio State history.

College hockey roundup: UMD, SCSU women skate to tie outdoors on Hockey Day Minnesota | Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota Duluth dominated puck possession, especially in the second and third periods, but could only muster a 1-1 overtime tie with St. Cloud State in a nonconference game played outdoors Saturday on the shore of Lake George as part of Hockey Day Minnesota in St. Cloud.

U Sports

TOP 10 TUESDAY — U SPORTS
This week Western slips into the top 10. Saskatchewan keeps getting 1 vote - are they voting for themselves?

Montreal 3, Concordia 2 (SO): Stingers Women’s Hockey Fall to Carabins in Shootout | Sports – The Link
In Friday night’s fight for first place in the Reseau du sport étudiant du Québec standings between the visiting Université de Montréal Carabins and the Stingers, it was the home team that got off to a much needed quick start.

European league hockey

SDHL (Sweden) Behind The Mask: Sabina Eriksson - The Ice Garden
Pride, personality, and Optimus Prime? Yes indeed.

WHL (Russia) Women’s Hockey Update: January 17th, 2018 | CONWAY'S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
With the Under-18 Women's World Championship finished up, there was a bit of lull -- though not a complete one -- in the on-ice action this week.