CHOI GETS SHOOTOUT WINNER, KOREA EDGES ITALY
JASON LA ROSE
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Si Woo Choi scored in Round 8 of a marathon shootout, giving Korea a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Italy to close out its preliminary round Wednesday at the 2017 World Sledge Hockey Challenge.
After Jae Woong Lee had turned away Sandro Kalegaris on the Italians’ eighth attempt, Choi froze goaltender Sandro Stillitano before tucking in a right-handed shot to help Korea to its first win in three tries.
Lee and Stillitano were the stars of the shootout, with both making multiple did-you-see-that saves to keep the game going. In all, the netminders stopped 11 of 16 shooters.
The Italians, who had yet to score in the tournament, took advantage of a first-period power play to find the scoreboard first; Gianluca Cavaliere gathered in a clearing attempt just inside the blue-line before going low to beat Lee at 10:26 of the opening frame.
Florian Planker doubled the lead on another man advantage early in the second period, taking a short pass from Andrea Macri and snapping a quick shot past Lee from in close.
The Koreans needed less than three minutes to cut the deficit in half, with Seung Hwan Jung taking a beautiful stretch pass from Min Su Han and going quickly to the left hand to beat Stillitano, before Young Sung Kim tucked in the game-tying goal at 12:15.
Defence ruled the third period, with just five shots on goal in a scoreless stanza.
Sung broke in alone for the best chance of overtime but Stillitano made his best save at the right time, diving to his left to help get the game to the shootout.
Nils Larch and Sung traded goals in the opening round before the goaltenders took over, stopping the next six shooters. Larch scored for a second time to put Italy on the verge of victory, but Jong Ho Jang answered for the Paralympic hosts to keep them alive.
After five more misses, Lee was the hero, putting Korea into the semifinals Thursday against the loser of the Canada-United States game later Wednesday.
The Italians will face the winner of Canada-U.S. in their semifinal, with times for the final-four match-ups to be confirmed following the end of the preliminary round.