The Korea Ice Hockey Association have fast-tracking players from North America in time for Pyeongchang 2018 ©KIHA

South Korea have given passports to two ice hockey players born in Canada so they can represent the country in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) said goaltender Matt Dalton and defenceman Eric Regan are now eligible to represent their adopted country at next month's International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship Division I Group A in Katowice in Poland.

They join four other North American-born players on the 22-man national team, coached by former National Hockey League (NHL) defenceman Jim Paek.

Earlier, Canadian forwards Brock Radunske and Michael Swift, American forward Mike Testwuide, and Canadian defenceman Bryan Young were naturalized.

Dalton, Regan, Radunske and Testwuide are team-mates on the South Korean club Anyang Halla in the Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH).

South Korea has been fast-tracking these athletes to strengthen its roster for Pyeongchang 2018, where they will be making their Olympic debut. 

The 29-year-old Dalton signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in 2009 but never played for the NHL club.

He has instead played in minor pro leagues in North America and in Russia.

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Canadian goaltender Matt Dalton was once drafted by the Boston Bruins but never played in the NHL ©ALIH

Dalton has been the ALIH's top goalie over the past two seasons.

He posted a 1.79 goals against average in 36 games for Anyang Halla this regular season, as the club set the ALIH's  single-season record with 114 points.

Regan, 27, is also a well-travelled player, having represented clubs in Canada, the United States, Germany and Japan before arriving in South Korea.

Regan played for another South Korean club, High 1, last season before joining Anyang Halla for this season.

He has been named to the season-end ALIH All-Star team the past two seasons.

He recorded 17 goals and 36 assists in 46 games for High 1, and nine goals and 32 assists in 47 games for Anyang Halla.

Last week, the Korea Biathlon Union announced that the Justice Ministry had given passports to two Russians, Anna Frolina and Alexander Starodubets, so they could represent the country at Pyeongchang 2018.

Frolina had finished fourth in the women's 7.5-kilometres sprint at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and won the gold medal in the relay at the 2009 Biathlon World Championships in Pyeongchang.