KRS Vanke Rays 5 Dynamo Neva 0 (0-0, 4-0, 1-0)
The Vanke Rays returned to the top of the Russian Women’s Hockey League with an assured victory over Dynamo Neva. The visitor from St. Petersburg, guided by national team head coach Evgeny Bobariko, was looking to consolidate its push for a top-four finish and a playoff place, but was undone by a strong second period performance with the KRS power play dominating.
Bobariko and several of his players remained in Stupino following the weekend exhibition games between the Lady Dragons and team Russia. The first of those meetings was settled by a goal from Polina Bolgareva and the 22-year-old caught the eye again in the early stages of this game. The forward was at the heart of much of the positive in Dynamo’s early play, but there was only one winner in her duel with Kimberly Newell.
At the other end, the Rays always looked assured and calmly waited for the opportunity to put the game to bed. In the second period, as we’ve seen so often this season, the team found another gear and effortlessly took control. Dynamo ran into penalty trouble, and paid the price: three trips to the box for the visitor brought three goals for our girls.
First our PP kept Dynamo pinned into its own end, with Megan Bozek and Jessica Wong dictating play from the blue line. A pass to the left-hand channel released Alex Carpenter and she provided the perfect set up for Hannah Miller to shoot home a one-timer from the center of the zone in the 24th minute. Beyond the halfway point, the floodgates opened. A second power play of the frame saw the visitor unable to clear the zone and Minttu Tuominen fired home from the blue line at the second attempt.
A couple of minutes later another power play led to another goal with Alexandra Vafina converting the rebound from Alena Mills’ point shot. And a difficult afternoon got worse for Dynamo when a self-inflicted error on the Rays blue line presented Miller with the puck and a wide expanse of open ice to explore. Our forward needed no second invitation, heading straight to the net to make it 4-0 and chase starting goalie Diana Farkhutdinova from the net. That takes Hannah to 10 goals for the season.
With the game already won, the tempo dropped a little in the third period. This, too, is something we’ve seen before this season. Since WHL fixtures are scheduled back-to-back, it makes sense to keep something in the tank for the following day if the team is in control of the game. With a steady stream of penalties for teams, the action became fragmented. However, late in the play, one last power play produced a fifth goal, with Leah Lum sliding the puck home from close range after good work from Vafina and Tuominen. Newell finished with 15 saves, recording her fourth shut-out in 11 games this season.
The win moves Brian Idalski’s team to 49 points, one clear of second-placed Agidel. And the Lady Dragons still have three games in hand on their closest rivals with a good chance to extend that lead tomorrow with a second meeting with Dynamo Neva.