Penalties major undoing of S. Korea in hockey loss to Kazakhstan

SAPPORO-- When losing to Kazakhstan 4-0 to open the men's hockey tournament at the Asian Winter Games on Wednesday, South Korean players just couldn't stay on the ice.

The team took seven minor penalties in the game, including four in the second period, and had trouble getting into any sort of groove while playing so much of the game short-handed.

South Korea coach Jim Paek said his players must be more careful going forward.

"It's tough when a third of the game is in the penalty box," he said. "You need four lines to play in today's game. When your penalty killers are on the ice for the majority of the time, it's tough to get a good flow."

Paek, former NHL defenseman, was visibly angry with the referees in the second period, with his defenseman Bryan Young taking back-to-back penalties in about a two-minute stretch.

South Korea, No. 23, has now lost all 12 meetings against No. 16 Kazakhstan. Next up in the round robin play will be Japan, ranked 21st.

Asked about the key to beating Japan, Paek said, "We have to stay out of the penalty box."

South Korea enjoyed a good stretch early in the first period against Kazakhstan, but goalie Vitaliy Kolesnik stood tall in the net. He made 29 saves for the shutout.

And whatever momentum South Korea had built early evaporated with a series of penalties in the second period. Kazakhstan scored twice in that frame. And after South Korea was unable to cash in on two early power plays in the third, Kazakhstan added two more goals to put the game out of reach.

"They played well. They're a good team," Paek said of his opponent. "We can't take anything for granted. Their goalie played well and that's a good hockey team. We had some good chances but we couldn't capitalize."

South Korea is trying to do better than the bronze medal from previous Asian Winter Games in 2011, when Kazakhstan won the gold and Japan claimed the silver.

In hopes of boosting its competitiveness for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year, South Korea has fast-tracked some Canadian- and American-born players to South Korean citizenships.

Paek's team may lose one of the imports for the tournament here. Top-line forward Michael Testwuide was injured after crashing into Kolesnik in a breakaway chance late in the third, and was seen with his left arm in a sling after the game. He was transferred to a local hospital but his status for future games wasn't immediately known.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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