Joint squad holds its first practice

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Joint squad holds its first practice


North and South Korean women’s ice hockey players listen to head coach Sarah Murray, center, during their first practice at Jincheon National Training Center in North Chungcheon on Sunday. [YONHAP]

The joint Korean women’s ice hockey team, assembled for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics, had their first practice session together on Sunday.

Following the recent inter-Korean agreement and a stamp of approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the two Koreas have put together a unified team of 35 players for the Olympics - 12 North Koreans have joined 23 South Koreans.

South Korea’s head coach, Sarah Murray, is in charge, while North Korea has also sent its own coach, Pak Chol-ho, to Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers (55.9 miles) southeast of Seoul.

The North Koreans arrived Thursday, and Murray ran separate practice sessions for the two squads over the following two days.

Then on Sunday, she divided her 35 players into Team A and Team B. Team A trained from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by Team B from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

The two sides were to play a scrimmage from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

While the IOC granted extra roster spots for the Korean team - all other teams have 23 players on hand - the actual game roster remains unchanged for everyone at 22 players, with 20 skaters and two goaltenders. And Murray must include at least three North Korean players in each game, under the terms of the landmark deal.

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