By David Gold

Ice sledge_hockey_2_30_MarchMarch 29 - The United States and South Korea have booked their spots in the semi-finals of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships in Hamar, Norway.

South Korea's emphatic 4-0 victory over Italy and defending champions the US's thumping 5-0 win over Japan meant the duo joins Canada and the Czech Republic in the last four.

The defeat of Italy, the reigning European champions, enabled the Koreans to finish second in Group B, behind Canada.

Jong Kyung Lee struck early on, continuing the Koreans' knack of scoring early at the tournament, before two-goal Woo Chui Park and Sang Hyeon Park wrapped up a comfortable win.

The US avoided a third straight shoot-out with a resounding Group A victory over Japan.

Nikko Landeros, Alexei Salamone and Taylor Chace gave the States a commanding first-half lead before Taylor Lipsett and Chace netted in the second period; the Americans' dominance was illustrated by their 22 shots to Japan's six.

"We played a solid game today and it was a great effort from everyone," enthused US coach Jeff Sauer afterwards.

"I like our momentum going into the medal round."

Ice sledge_hockey_1_30_March
Norway's Princess Märtha Louise was on hand to witness her nation's humiliation in Group B as the hosts were beaten once again, this time 4-1 by Canada to end the stage without a single victory.

Affairs had started well against the Canadians with Magnus Bogle putting Norway ahead to give them hope of restoring some pride against the double world champions.

However, this strike was quickly cancelled out by Dominic Larocque with Adam Dixon netting to make it 2-1.

Canada scored twice more in the second period, through Kieran Block and Greg Westlake, to run away with the match with Dixon in particularly fine form.

"Like the team, I am slowly making my way into the tournament and getting better every game," Dixon said afterwards.

"I have been getting better and upping my play as the tournament goes on.

"I think we are going to continue to improve because we are not at our best yet."

Norway now plays Japan as they battle simply to stay in Pool A for next season.

Victory will ensure the Scandinavians return to the world championships next year as one of the top six teams from this year's tournament.

Coach Morten Haglund said. "It is still very close and it will be a tough game against Japan.

"I hope I will be smiling tomorrow."

The other match in the final round of round-robin games brought a 2-1 victory for the Czech Republic over Estonia in a Group A shoot-out.

Two early goals, from Estonia's Ivar Liiv and the Czech's Zdenek Habi, sent the game into the shoot-out; Erik Fojtlk and Zdenek Krupicka both scored for the victors with Kaido Kalm replying.

The Czechs, therefore, finish the group undefeated leaving Estonia to cross swords with Italy for the right to remain in the A Pool.

South Korea and the Czech Republic will meet in the first semi-final with the US taking on Canada in a highly anticipated clash of the North American titans and tournament favourites later in the day between.

The US will hope for better fortune after losing twice to Canada in a recent friendly series in Buffalo.

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