Top of the league!

25 January 2021 , , ,

KRS Vanke Rays 2 MSMO 7.62 Moscow Region 0 (0-0, 2-0, 0-0)

The Vanke Rays are out in front! Monday’s victory over 7.62 – the second in two days against this opponent – combined with Agidel going to overtime in Krasnoyarsk puts our girls on top of the Women’s Hockey League table. After today’s action, KRS is in first place on 46 points. SKIF has the same total, but fewer wins in regulation, while Agidel is one point behind after edging Biryusa in a shoot-out.

For today’s game, the Lady Dragons switched up some of the lines. In particular, two Chinese forwards – Huo Cui and Tang Liang moved into the top six. Liang joined Leah Lum and Alexandra Vafina on the first line, while Cui partnered Alena Mills and Alex Carpenter on the second. Milena Tretyak, so close to her first shut-out for the club yesterday, continued between the piping.

In Sunday’s game, the Rays blew away 7.62 from the start, scoring twice inside three minutes and opening a 4-0 lead in the first period. The visitor clearly learned from that experience and came out for Monday’s game with a different approach. Gone was the timid reluctance to engage the offense; instead we saw more attacking intent. With better decision-making, that might have led to goals, but Milena Tretyak did well in the KRS net. Up until the midway point, the best opportunity was created by Maria Goryacheva, buzzing down the right and getting the puck into the danger zone, but our D was strong on the slot.

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The pattern of play began to turn in the latter half of the opening frame. Yuliya Volkova was called upon for a big save when #89 found Rachel Llanes in front of the net, and the visiting goalie came up big once again late in the frame to turn away Emily Costales’ effort. However, it’s a tribute to the hard work of the 7.62 defense that the bulk of the shots Volkova stopped in the first period came from the blue line.

Eventually, though, one of those piledrivers made the difference. Early in the second period, Melanie Tse let fly from center point and Hannah Miller leapt in to apply the redirect for the opener. It wasn’t long before Huo Cui made it 2-0, closing in on Volkova and lifting a Leah Lum effort into the roof of the net.

That proved enough to win the game. The visitor’s early attacking intent faded in the second period and there was rarely any danger to the KRS lead. Indeed, there might have been a third goal late in the final frame when Maria Pushkar produced a nice piece of skill to get to the net but saw her shot rebound off the underside of the bar. There was a video review to check the flight of the puck, but it did not fully cross the line.

At the other end, our defense did a professional job of closing out the game and helped Tretyak to her first shut-out for the club. Milena stopped 14 shots in total as the KRS bandwagon rolls to the top of the charts.

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