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S. Korea to host Russia in final tune-up hockey game before Olympics

South Korea will host Russia in the countries' final men's hockey tune-up game next February before the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Scheduling the match was part of a cooperative agreement reached between the national hockey federations of the two countries in Moscow on Thursday.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) said it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation at VTB Ice Palace in Moscow. Both countries are participating in the Channel One Cup tournament there.

The two sides have agreed to cooperate with each other to keep developing hockey by holding coaching seminars, organizing games between national youth teams and hosting regional conferences on ways to improve the sport in East Asia.

And the South Korean national team and either the Russian national team or a Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) club will square off once each in South Korea and Russia early next year.

In this photo provided by the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA), Chung Mong-won (R), head of the KIHA, and Vladislav Tretiak, president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, speak at a press conference at VTB Ice Palace in Moscow on Dec. 14, 2017, after signing a cooperative agreement. (Yonhap)

In this photo provided by the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA), Chung Mong-won (R), head of the KIHA, and Vladislav Tretiak, president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, speak at a press conference at VTB Ice Palace in Moscow on Dec. 14, 2017, after signing a cooperative agreement. (Yonhap)In this photo provided by the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA), Chung Mong-won (R), head of the KIHA, and Vladislav Tretiak, president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, speak at a press conference at VTB Ice Palace in Moscow on Dec. 14, 2017, after signing a cooperative agreement. (Yonhap)

The two sides have settled on Feb. 10 as the match date in South Korea. It will be played at Anyang Ice Arena in Anyang, about 20 kilometers south of Seoul, and will be the last tune-up game for both countries before the Olympic men's hockey tournament.

South Korea and Russia also played two friendly games in March this year in Gangneung, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul and venue for all Olympic hockey games.

At the signing ceremony, KIHA President Chung Mong-won said South Korea has received a lot of help from Russia in its Olympic preparations and the 2018 Olympic host nation will try to return the favor.

"I expect the signing of this agreement will go a long way toward helping develop Korean hockey," Chung said. "We'll help Russia's preparations for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics."

In this photo provided by the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA), Chung Mong-won (R), head of the KIHA, and Vladislav Tretiak, president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, shake hands at VTB Ice Palace in Moscow on Dec. 14, 2017, after signing a cooperative agreement. (Yonhap)

Vladislav Tretiak, former Soviet goaltending legend now leading the Russian federation, said he hoped the MOU would accelerate the development of hockey in the East Asian region.

South Korea, coached by former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman Jim Paek, is the world No. 21 gearing up for its Olympic debut. Russia is ranked No. 2 and will go for its first Olympic gold since 1988.

The NHL won't send its players to PyeongChang, and in lieu of those stars, Russia will likely dip into the KHL talent pool, with former NHL All-Stars Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk available.
(Yonhap)

Shin Eugenia  edt@koeapost.com

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