Inaugural title and World Championship medals

28 May 2024

Former Lady Dragons hit the heights across the globe

KRS Shenzhen enjoyed a championship season in the inaugural Chinese Women’s League – and there was plenty of success for Lady Dragon alums around the world.

The big news in women’s hockey this season was the launch of the PWHL. The high-profile North American league is setting new standards for the female game and, of course, it had plenty of input from ex-Dragons.

Top of the list is Michela Cava. She helped Minnesota win the first ever championship, and her 8 (4+4) points in the playoffs tied MVP Taylor Heise for post-season scoring. Michela, 30, was part of the KRS Russian champion team in 2021/22, where she had 17 points in eight playoff games.

Cava came to life in the final series, scoring all of her eight points in the five-game battle with Boston. Fittingly, she played a big role in the decisive game, grabbing a goal and an assist on the road to secure a 3-0 victory and claim the cup. “I don’t have a lot of words,” she told TSN after Wednesday’s game. “Our team battled every freaking game. We had play 10 games in how many days? We all just grinded it out and stuck together. I really feel like our team came together the most in the playoffs … It’s been an amazing journey so far.”

In that final series, Cava’s Minnesota came up against another KRS champion from 2022, Boston’s Susanna Tapani. Finnish international Susanna began the season with Minnesota but was traded. That change of scenery boosted her game and she was Boston’s leading scorer in the playoffs with 4 (3+1) points through eight games.

That wasn’t all. Alex Carpenter, a scoring phenom in the Russian Women’s Hockey League, placed fourth in PWHL regular season scoring even though her New York team couldn’t make the playoffs. Hannah Miller, also known as Mi Le in international play with team China, had 14 (7+7) points in the regular season for Toronto, leading her team’s secondary scoring behind Sarah Nurse’s powerful top line. Fellow Chinese international Leah Lum (Lin Qiqi) also played in the opening season, contributing 4 (1+3) points for Montreal.


World Championship medals

Team China’s return to the top division of IIHF World Championship play saw plenty of the current KRS Shenzhen roster mixing it with the best in the world. Scott Spencer’s team was in deep, but produced some encouraging performances before narrowly falling into relegation.

At the other end of the charts, there were medals for three ex-Dragons. Carpenter collected silver with the USA, missing out on gold in the final against Canada. Finland took bronze, with Tapani top scorer on 6 (2+4) points from seven games. Michelle Karvinen was also on the Finnish roster, and contributed 4 (1+3) points.

Domestic success

Elsewhere, we saw several ex-Dragons enjoying success in their national championships. Closest to home, Alexandra Vafina and Irina Tsatsyna helped Dynamo Neva win it first Russian championship. It was an unusual season in Russia, with our old rival Agidel Ufa failing to make the grand final. In the event, Dynamo defeated Biryusa Krasnoyarsk. Vafina scored twice in the decisive 3-2 victory in Siberia to secure the title, and had 9 (5+4) points in the playoffs on top of 26 in the regular season. Defender Tsatsyna missed much of the post season through injury but returned for the last three games of the final and contributed two assists.

In Europe, Emma Nordin had a great season with Lulea. Emma was part of the leadership group as the team won the Swedish championship, and she contributed consistently throughout the season. She had 43 points in regular season, and added 12 more in nine playoff games. Nordin now has a championship from each of the last six seasons she has played, including a 2022 Russian crown with the Dragons.

Finland’s Minttu Tuominen made plenty of friends during her spell with KRS. She played the whole of the 2020/21 season, and returned for part of the 2021/22 campaign. This season, she’s back in her homeland with Kiekko Espoo. Minttu was the top-scoring defender on the team, and helped it to top spot in the regular season. She kept up her productive ways in the playoffs, but fell just short of another gold medal after defeat against HIFK in the final.

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