KRS Vanke Rays 5 Tornado Moscow Region 1 (1-0, 0-1, 4-0)
Three goals at the start of the third period helped the KRS Vanke Rays turn a tight game into an 11th successive victory. The Lady Dragons secured their playoff place with yesterday’s 5-1 victory over Tornado. On Saturday, the team followed up that success with a repeat of that scoreline against the same opponent.
It moves the Rays to 58 points, four clear of second-placed Agidel and still with two games in hand on in last year’s runner-up. The remaining games of the regular season will all be played on the road, including two in Ufa where our meetings with Agidel on Feb. 21 and 22 look set to decide who tops the table going into the playoffs.
Saturday’s action represented a temporary farewell to Mytishchi – we’ll be back for the playoffs, of course, but that is for the future – and despite a difficult spell in the second period, the Dragons made sure they left on a high note. The opening goal arrived in the 14th minute in a move started and finished by Minttu Tuominen. She began by turning defense into attack with a pass for Alena Mills. Into the Tornado zone, Mills pushed the puck wide to Kaitlyn Tougas on the right and her shot was deflected back into Tuominen’s path for the finishing touch.
In general, the first period was played at the home team’s tempo, and a 1-0 scoreline was a fair reflection of the opening exchanges. However, early in the second, back-to-back penalties for Megan Bozek and Tougas put our girls under pressure and Tornado was able to tie the game on a 5-on-3 power play. Nina Pirogova’s shot was a constant threat and, eventually, the rebound from one of her efforts dropped into the danger zone where Anna Savonina was able to force the loose puck home. A video review offered no reprieve for the Rays and the game continued with the scores level and KRS still killing the remaining 90 seconds of penalty time.
It took a big pad save from Kimberly Newell to deny Tornado the lead seconds later when Pirogova received the puck between the hash marks and fired in a wicked shot. Our goalie had the answer, getting enough of a pad behind it to deflect the effort over the bar to safety. Then, as the Rays returned to full strength, Newell pulled off another great stop to deny Pirogova once again.
At the other end, the Rays’ power play produced some exhilarating play around Eva Gubareva’s net but could not find a way to goal and the second period ended with the scores tied and an entertaining game very much in the balance.
Early in the third, though, KRS took control. The breakthrough came in the 43rd minute from another home power play. And, not for the first time this season, it was Bozek’s thunderous shot that made the difference. Presented with a clear view of the net in a central position, Megan wound up another blast that gave Gubareva no chance. A couple of minutes later, from a spot closer to the blue line, Bozek let fly once again and the puck ripped into the net for the third goal, this time credited to Tougas following a deflection along the flightpath.
Tornado was wobbling and in the 47th minute the visitor allowed a fourth goal. Rachel Llanes did well in the corner to set up Hannah Miller in front of the net. Then came another goal for our leading scorer, Alex Carpenter, who added to Friday’s hat-trick with her first of the game to convert another KRS power play and chase Gubareva from the net. Carpenter moves to 20 goals for the season and has 41 points in total.