North Korean and Canadian relations were literally put on ice when hockey players from the two countries laced up for a tournament this week.

The five-day tournament, called the Pyongyang International Friendship Ice Hockey Exhibition, wound up Friday with a match between international players and the North Korean national team.

The trip was organized by Canadian Michael Spavor, who leads trade, sporting and cultural exchanges with North Korea.

While Spavor said ex-NHLers would play in the tournament, he declined to name them.

Spavor was the man behind meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and flamboyant basketball star Dennis Rodman in 2013 and 2014.

The tournament, which was months in the making, went ahead despite a recent spike in tensions. North Korea has drawn international condemnation for nuclear and rocket tests, and for what are widely seen as human rights atrocities. A human rights expert asked the United Nations last month to officially notify Jong-Un that he could face investigation for crimes against humanity.

Ottawa has condemned North Korea’s treatment of South Korean-born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim who is serving a life sentence in a hard-labour prison for subversion.