South Korea grouped with Canada in men's ice hockey

Mon May 18, 2015 1:56am EDT
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SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea will have a baptism of fire when they debut in the men's ice hockey competition at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang after being drawn with two-time defending champions Canada in the pool phase.

The Koreans, who have been given automatic entry into the tournament as hosts, will also face the Czech Republic and Switzerland in Pool A.

Canada claimed top spot in the ice hockey world rankings after beating Russia in the gold medal game at the World Championship on Sunday.

In Pool B, Russia and the United States have been grouped together with Slovakia, while Sweden and Finland are in Pool C. Three more teams are still to qualify.

It is still unclear whether NHL players will participate in Pyeongchang, with many league owners less than thrilled at having to shut down for two weeks mid-season and put their players at risk of injury playing for their countries.

The men's ice hockey tournament, along with the blue riband figure skating competition, are the highest profile events at the Winter Games.

(Reporting by Peter Rutherford; Editing by John O'Brien)