Improving hockey team is runner-up
Korea beats poland and italy to finish second in tournament
The Korean national ice hockey team led by Korean-Canadian Coach Jim Paek, or Paek Ji-seon, beat 24thranked Poland, 6-3, in the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Budapest on Monday to finish the tournament in second place.
The Korean team, ranked 23rd, beat 18th-ranked Italy on Sunday, 4-3, in a penalty shootout after losing to 19thranked Hungary, 6-1, on Saturday.
The team exceeded expectations given that Italy, Poland and Hungary are in Division I Group A of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
Korea was relegated to the thirdtier Group B after losing all five of its matches in Division I Group A at the IIHF World Championship in April.
As representative of the host country, the team is eligible to compete in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olym- pic Games, but it was not competitive against other teams from Europe and North America.
That changed when Paek arrived in August. Though ice hockey is not popular in Korea, Paek’s career is as glorious as that of football legend Cha Bum-kun, who scored 98 goals in the Bundesliga.
Paek moved to Canada at the age of 1. He became the first Asian NHL player as a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991, and won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992.
“We are thinking we may not be able to come back to the national team if we don’t survive here,” said 27-yearold Shin Sang-woo of Daemyung Sangmu. “We can’t relax because we always feel like we are being tested.”
Paek introduced advanced strategies to the national team.
“Paek ordered us to watch NHL video clips, and he teaches us set plays,” said Shin.
“Two of the goals in the game against Poland were the result of strategy training,” said Park Woo-sang, the team’s captain.
Paek’s team often employs swarming tactics, in which all players join both the attack and defense, similar to the Netherlands’ total football tactics. In the match against Italy, even defensemen Kim Hyuk and Bryan Young had goals.
The coach also cheers up the players by telling them in his imperfect Korean: “Don’t think too much, enjoy the hockey. We are getting better every day, because we did good against Italy and even better against Poland.”
Park said his coaching style centers on what he calls his “three P’s,” which refer to passion, practice and perseverance. And he is about to add one more “P”: Pyeongchang. LeBron James wanted so badly to give back to Cleveland fans after he played poorly in his emotion-laced home opener. They deserved something. On Monday night, he delivered a belated gift.
James recorded a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, Kyrie Irving scored 27 of his 32 in the second half and Cleveland’s Big 3 dominated in a 118-111 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
Kevin Love made six 3-pointers and added 22 points for the Cavs, who were back at Quicken Loans Arena for the first time since Oct. 30, when Cleveland welcomed James home after four years in Miami. He failed to play up to the monumental event, going 5 of 15 and committing eight turnovers in a stunning loss to the New York Knicks.
James wouldn’t allow a repeat performance. After the Cavs returned from a four-game road trip, James went on his Twitter account and told Cleveland fans, “I owe y’all one.’’ Not anymore. “It worked out. It’s good when you put something out there and it comes true,’’ he said. “I owed them one, and many more as well. Tonight we took care of business.’’
James and Irving dominated in the second half, combining for 49 points — 30 in the third quarter when the Cavs overcame a 9-point deficit. Love, too, was huge after halftime, making four 3-pointers.
“This is special,’’ said Irving, who added nine assists and had just one turnover in 40 minutes. “We played well as a group.’’
Anthony Davis scored 27 with 14 rebounds for the Pelicans, who beat defending NBA champion San Antonio on Saturday night and gave the Cavaliers all they could handle. Ryan Anderson added 32 points — 23 in the first half for New Orleans.
“In order for you to become one of the best you have to play the best and learn from them,’’ Davis said. “I love playing against LeBron and the Cavs. They’re a tough team. They have three players who can score the ball at will. We broke down defensively. They scored 118 points. We can’t allow teams to do that.’’
Irving’s 3-pointer gave the Cavs a 101-95 lead, but the Pelicans didn’t go away and were within three when Love drained one of his six 3s. Irving scored on a conventional 3-point play and then hit another long-range shot to give Cleveland a 110-98 lead with 2:26 left.
James was taken but Coach David Blatt had to re-insert the superstar in the closing seconds after Anderson’s 3 brought the Pelicans to 117-111 with 13.9 seconds left.
Following the game, Blatt answered several questions before reminding everyone what James did.
“Hey, that guy No. 23 was pretty good tonight,’’ Blatt said. “It’s easy to overlook that guy. He grabbed the game. He understood the moment.’’
Jeong Wu-seong, left, and Ahn Jeong-hyeon, second from left, defend Sebastian Kowalowka of Poland in the last match of the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Budapest on Monday.