The third time proved to be the charm for the Japan women's ice hockey team, which earned its first Olympic win by defeating Korea 4-1 on Wednesday.
After failing to win at either Nagano in 1998 or Sochi in 2014, Japan finally got in the win column after two Group B defeats here. When the victory did come, it was against the first Olympic team with members from both North and South Korea.
Hanae Kubo opened the scoring 1 minute, 7 seconds into the game, and Shoko Ono scored on a power play after Randi Heesoo Griffin was penalized for a cross check, but the Korean side settled down and held Japan there until the buzzer.
"I'm glad we could finally win. We were able to maintain possession but we were unable to turn that into goals," Smile Japan captain Chiho Osawa said.
Griffin made amends halfway through the second period when she scored off an assist by Park Yoon Jung, who grew up in Minnesota. Park was adopted as a child, and her sister Hannah Brandt, is currently playing in these Olympics for Team USA.
The goal for Korea brought the house down at Kwandong Hockey Centre, but despite repeated pressure no more goals were forthcoming and Shiori Koike's power-play slap-shot goal from the blue line all but ended the game with less than nine minutes to play. Rui Ukita added an empty-net goal to complete the scoring in the final minutes.
Osawa said her team was not interested with the significance of playing a unified Korean team.
"We tried not to concern ourselves with anything about our opponents. Everything was about what we needed to do as a team. Now we will have classification games ahead of us to determine our placing and we need to focus on doing well moving forward."
A year ago in the Asian Winter Games, Japan defeated South Korea 3-0 en route to the gold medal. Coach Sarah Murray's team put on a stronger performance at home despite having to absorb several skaters from North Korea to form a combined team in the days leading up to the Pyeongchang Games.
In the day's early game, Switzerland defeated Sweden 2-1 to finish atop Group B. Both teams had already been assured spots in the next round with wins over Japan and Korea.