6 December 2020
The Lady Dragons continued their strong start to their Women’s Hockey League title defense, comfortably overcoming Dynamo Neva in St. Petersburg. The name of Sunday’s opponent is relatively new – previously the team played as Dynamo St. Petersburg, but at the end of last season
the management of that multi-sport club was unable to continue with its women’s hockey section. Refusing to roll over, Dynamo re-established itself as an independent organization in time to compete in the new season. The team joined the championship a little bit late – officially signing up on Nov. 11 – but showed its quality from day one, twice taking joint leader SKIF to shoot-outs in its first two games.
So, while it wasn’t clear what our girls should expect from their first meetings with this new-look team, it was obvious that we would need to be on top of our game to get the results we need to keep up the pressure on the leaders.
That’s why it was important to begin at a high tempo, using the skill and power of our team to dictate the play and limit the opportunities for Dynamo to attack. However, the first clear-cut chance of the game went to our host, with Polina Yeliseyeva stealing the puck on her own blue line and
sprinting down the ice. Kimberly Newell had the situation well in hand, though, and made the save.
Hockey lore decrees that a missed chance at one end heralds a goal at the other, and so it proved. Kaitlyn Tougas demonstrated just how to forecheck, winning back possession in the Dynamo zone and presenting Alex Carpenter with the kind of chance she loves. 1-0 to the Rays with seven minutes played.
A second goal wasn’t long in coming. Alena Mills was both the architect and the finisher, starting the play from behind the Dynamo net and tracking the action to ensure she was perfectly placed to fire home in the 11th minute.
If there were any doubts about how this game was going, the opening moments of the second period ended them. The Vanke Rays extended the lead 30 seconds into the frame, with Jessica Wong given the freedom of the Dynamo zone to power up her shot and smash home a third. Even allowing
for the fact that the home ‘D’ was shorthanded, neglecting to track a player of Jessica’s quality could only end one way. A couple of minutes later it was 4-0, with Maria Pushkar setting up Rachel Llanes in front of the net.
Dynamo managed to get a consolation goal through Alsu Rakhimova midway through the middle frame, but the outcome of the game was already more than clear. Mindful of Monday’s match-up, the second half of this double header in Russia’s Northern Capital, the Lady Dragons focussed on closing out the game without mishap and achieved that with few alarms in the closing stages.
The win keeps our girls in third in the championship table, seven points behind the joint leaders Agidel and SKIF. However, that’s something of a false position – the Vanke Rays played four games fewer than the leader, and six fewer than second-placed SKIF. Other teams may be ahead of us for
now, but the pressure is steadily building as we await a chance to move to the front.