Thousands of fans packed the Kwandong Hockey Centre to witness history: A united Korea took the ice and circled up in its own zone as players from the North and South donned the same uniform and competed on the same side.
Korea had its moment, but Alina Muller and Team Switzerland quickly stole the spotlight as the Swiss cruised to a 8-0 victory. Muller lit the lamp four times, including three in the first period, while teammate Sara Benz picked up three assists.
At 10:23 of the first period, Muller registered a shorthanded goal to break a 0-0 tie. She followed it up with two more strikes, including one with less than 12 seconds remaining to complete the natural hat trick. She added two assists in the final period for good measure to finish the night with six points.
"The team helped me; my line helped me," said Muller, whose four goals tied a single-game Olympic record. "It was very fun to play"
Benz was Team Switzerland’s creative force against Korea, dishing out three assists in the opening frame. Christine Meier found Benz in the slot in the final seconds of the first period, and Benz passed to a wide-open Muller who was waiting in the crease for an easy tap-in. Lara Stalder added two goals of her own and Meier tallied three assists.
"[Korea] has the entire crowd on their side, so it's very different playing a team that has so much energy going for them," Swiss forward Pheobe Staenz said. "But I think it was a good victory for us to gain confidence going into the tournament because we do have big goals."
Switzerland’s goaltender Florence Schelling did not face much action but stopped everything that came her way to earn the first shutout of the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
Korea generated little offensively but this game was not about the results. The historic significance of united team, on the heels of the two countries marching out to the Opening Ceremonies under one flag will have a long-lasting impact.
Even after the lopsided loss, the Korean team remained upbeat and looked to polish its game as the tournament continues.
"[The players] worked really hard, but I think they were nervous coming out in front of such a big crowd the first time on the Olympic stage," Team Korea head coach Sarah Murray said. "But we’ve told the players that just because we lost the first game it doesn’t mean our tournament is finished."
Both teams return to action Feb. 12th.
Oliver Jung contributed to this report.