7 December 2020
For the second time in two days, the Vanke Rays picked up a 4-1 win at Dynamo Neva. Once again, a fast start gave our Lady Dragons early control over the action and paved the way for a straightforward victory against a hard-working opponent. However, the game was marred by an injury to home forward Polina Bolgareva, who was stretchered off in the third period.
Bolgareva’s misfortune came after she went clean through on the Rays net in search of a consolation goal. Noora Raty made the save and Bolgareva lost her footing and cannoned head first into the boards. The medical team was on hand quickly to move the player safely off the ice and, not surprisingly, the final minutes were played out in a subdued atmosphere.
By the time of that unfortunate incident, the game was already won. The opening goal came on the power play, and was a tribute to the art of deception. It looked for the entire world as if Leah Lum was about to hammer in another slap shot when she got the puck in a central position. Instead, a delicate pass found Rachel Llanes between the hash marks and she applied the touch to gently steer it through Diana Farkhutdinova’s five-hole.
If the first goal was about delicacy, the second was about determination. Jessica Wong took the puck to the corner and even as she fell to the ice, she managed to get a pass to the net. Kaitlyn Tougas moved it across the paint and Alex Carpenter was on the spot to score into a wide open net. Just as in the previous game, the Rays jumped to a two-goal lead inside 10 minutes. And, once again, the stats were strongly in our favor, with a 14-3 advantage on the shot count as our girls dominated the play.
The middle frame followed a similar pattern, but with more frequent penalties disrupting the play. For once, our offense lacked some of its customary efficiency, while Farkhutdinova performed strongly in the home net to keep the scoreline at 2-0. And the home team gave itself a real chance of getting back into the game late in the session when Elena Vodopyanova made it 1-2. It was hardly the prettiest of goals, with the puck bouncing around our crease and Dynamo having several shots before finally forcing it home, but it ensured that the game was very much alive going into the third.
Dynamo then had two power play chances early in the third, but the Dragons defense was on top form and barely allowed a shot at Raty’s net. The hard work was rewarded at the other end once the teams were back to full strength, and two goals in 30 seconds took the game away from the home team. Kaitlin Tse got the first, stuffing the puck home at the second attempt after Carpenter’s break down the right. Then Rachel Llanes combined with Hannah Miller to get her second of the game.
Twice in the closing stages, KRS played with a 5-on-3 advantage. However, despite enjoying plenty of puck possession, the girls were unable to add to their tally and in the final minutes it was clear that both sets of players were thinking about the health of their injured colleague.
Monday’s game brings to an end the 2020 schedule for the Vanke Rays. The team goes into the New Year with the best points-per-game ratio in the Women’s Hockey League, and sits in third place overall after missing several games at the start of the season. The next scheduled action comes on Jan. 20 and it promises to be a cracker as SKIF visits a KRS team looking to avenge its only loss of the season in Nizhny Novgorod back in October.