Korea, Japan both have reasons to celebrate
History was made Wednesday in PyeongChang when Japan defeated Korea, 4-1, in the preliminary round.
Japan secured its first ever Olympic victory in its third Olympic appearance, while the crowd went bonkers after Korea netted its first goal of the opening round.
Hanae Kubo and Shoko Ono scored for the Japanese, but Randi Griffin stole the spotlight with the first goal in Korean Olympic hockey history. The atmosphere was electric as Griffin’s shot trickled past Japan’s goaltender at 9:31 of the second period to make the score 2-1.
"It's good that we scored a goal in the Olympics." Griffin told reporters after the game. "It's definitely something that we talked about. ... It feels great to have one under our belt."
Kubo gave Japan a one-goal lead just 1:07 into the first period when she buried a one-time opportunity from the high slot. Haruka Toko set up Kubo from behind the net. Rui Ukita also assisted on the play as she returned from her one-game suspension.
Later in the opening frame, Ono finished a rebound in front to make it 2-0 in favor of Japan.
Korea played inspired hockey after Griffin scored but was unable to close the gap.
"It's a really awesome feeling to have that support," Griffin explained. "After the goal the energy in the arena was something we were definitely feeding off. It's awesome."
Japan added another when Shiore Koike blasted a slap shot from the point at 11:42 of the third period. Ukita sealed the victory with an empty-netter.
Despite the result, the contest was a huge success for both up-and-coming hockey programs and could lead to future success.