January 18, 2018

Olympic Hockey Headlines: Korean Unification In Women's Hockey

One of the more amazing stories coming out of Korea this week is that the women's hockey tournament will feature a unified Korean team.

Neither South or North Korea are much of a power on the international women's hockey scene. That doesn't matter. What is amazing here is the universality of sport. In a world complicated by politics, religion and gender issues - especially in North Korea - hockey is giving hope.

South Koreans are in favor reunification with the North. They will get a taste of it in a sport most most Koreans might not even know exists - women's hockey.

Sarah Murray, the Canadian coach of the South Korean women's national team, isn't a big supporter of all this. She doesn't care about the bigger picture of politics and global affairs.

“I have mixed feelings about this combination,” she told the Toronto Star. “This had been done three to four years ago, when we started this journey.”

That's an understandable standpoint for a coach who just weeks away from the Olympics has to revamp her team.

Murray is particularly concerned about team chemistry. It seems that the IOC is going to allow Korea to carry a larger roster than the other women's teams, thus ensuring no South Korean players lose their Olympic opportunity this late in the process. Regardless, only 20 skaters can play in a game and a few players will not get to play every game.

Korea, currently ranked 23rd in the world in women's hockey, opens the women's tournament on February 10th. They are in a group with Switzerland, Japan and Sweden.

Two members of the South Korean women's team are transplanted Canadians.

Brampton, Ontario's Caroline Park, who is studying medicine at Columbia University in New York, took a leave of absence to skate with the team.

She will be joined by Danielle Im. Both were invited to the team via Facebook from unknown senders.

Im is a Toronto native studying at Ryerson University. She also has degrees in kinesiology and physical education from Laurier University.

The team also features goaltender Shin So-Jung, a Korean born and trained hockey player who played in Canada for St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.

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