Swift return to winning path
Korea stuns host, Poland remains winless
The Koreans made a first step in staying in this group while for Poland the dream of earning promotion and improving from last year’s third-place finish is dwindling.
It was the first encounter in an official game in four years for the two teams. That’s when Korea earned promotion to this group the last time by beating host Poland 3-2 for Division I Group B gold in Krynica and Katowice seems to be a lucky place for the Koreans either.
The teams played at par, had a similar number of shots – 7-7, 13-14, 13-10 – and of face-offs won throughout the game. The big difference was Michael Swift’s three goals.
“I was lucky. I play with great players. We’re all in the system, we’re all doing the same thing and today it just happened to go for me,” Swift said modestly.
“We played really well yesterday [against Austria] and deserved to win and we’re happy that we got the win this time. It shows how we built on yesterday and learned from our mistakes.”
24 seconds into the middle frame the Korean fan sector went wild for the first time when Swift scored the first goal of the game. The Koreans passed their way through the Polish defence and after a nice feed from Sanghoon Shin it was Swift, who got the puck in front of the net and made it 1-0.
Three minutes later Swift hit the back of the net again. After a turnover from Aron Chmielewski the Koreans got the puck in their zone. They failed to score initially but Shin and Minho Cho battled for the puck at the end boards and after a drop pass to the crease Swift was once again at the right spot to double the lead for Korea.
“It was a well-fought match. It came down to the very end. Both teams played very well and it was anybody’s game,” said Paek, who praised the encouraging support from its fans at the arena, most of them Koreans working in Poland for Halla, a Korean conglomerate that is a big sponsor in Korean hockey.
The home crowd at Spodek suffered as the players didn’t manage to capitalize on their chances. At 8:54 of the third period it was a lucky punch that eventually brought Poland back within reach. Grzegorz Pasiut capitalized on a terrible giveaway in the Korean zone and beat goalie Matt Dalton for the 2-1 goal. It was short-lived joy though as 82 seconds later Swift made his hat trick perfect. After a long vertical pass from Don Ku Lee, Swift got the puck close to the opponent’s blueline and beat Przemyslaw Odrobny to make it 3-1.
“We were trying our best. It wasn’t a bad game for us. We played well. In some moments we were dominating. We had our chances but we didn’t capitalize on them. Our scoring efficiency was poor,” said Polish head coach Jacek Plachta.
“We have to calm down and talk because our next opponent Slovenia is I’d say the best team here.”
Plachta took his time-out with 132 seconds left and pulled Odrobny, however, Sangwook Kim made everything clear with his shot into the empty net with 75 seconds left for the final score of 4-1.