Biryusa Krasnoyarsk 2 KRS Vanke Rays 5 (0-2, 1-1, 2-2)
KRS Vanke Rays wrapped up the regular season with another victory. Saturday’s 5-2 success at Biryusa makes it 17 consecutive wins in the Women’s Hockey League as the Dragons finish the campaign with just two losses in 28 outings. Both figures are WHL records as the team powered to the regular season title.
Along the way, the roster plundered several individual honors as well. Yesterday’s hat-trick saw Alex Carpenter secure her position as the league’s leading scorer and today she added one more assist to stretch her productive streak to 10 games and finish with 56 points for the season. Not surprisingly, perhaps, her haul of 29 goals puts Alex on top of that chart as well.
Fellow American Megan Bozek compiled 36 points from the blue line this season to finish as the most productive defenseman in the competition. Closest rival Anna Shibanova managed 35 points. Megan was also well placed in the goalscoring charts, with 13 tallies tying her for second on that list alongside Anna Savonina and behind Nina Pirogova (14).
While Carpenter and Bozek dominated the league scoring charts, they were well supported. Hannah Miller (37 points), Rachel Llanes (34) and Jessica Wong (29) all produced more than a point a game.
With all that offensive power, it’s no surprise that the Vanke Rays outscored every other team in the league, with 130 markers placing ahead of Agidel’s 127. But a better marker of our dominance since the fall might be found in the goals allowed column. After 28 games, KRS conceded just 29 times – only just over once per game on average. An overall goal differential of +101 translates into an average superiority of 3.6 goals per game over the course of the season. Goalie Kimberly Newell’s six shut-outs were matched by Darya Gredzen of Biryusa – neither goalie iced in Saturday’s game – while her individual GAA of 0.72 was comfortably the best in the league; of those who played more than 10 games, SKIF’s Valeriya Merkusheva came second with 1.45, allowing twice as many goals per game. Our own Milena Tretyak, who made seven appearances, also had a GAA close to 1. Newell stopped 96.14% of the shots she faced, another league-leading stat.
As for Saturday’s game, the Dragons were rarely troubled on their way to yet another win. The usual strike force of Carpenter, Miller and Llanes was listed as the second line today, with Alena Mills, Leah Lum and Kaitlyn Tougas taking the lead role – and combining for three of the five goals. It meant extra ice time for some players and a well-earned rest for others.
After falling behind early in Friday’s meeting, the Rays were not keen to repeat that experience and took an early lead on a Lindsay Agnew goal. Late in the first period, the first KRS power play saw Kaitlyn Tougas double that advantage, redirecting Leah Lum’s shot past Ekaterina Lazurenko. And Tougas got her second of the game early in the middle frame, making it 3-0.
Biryusa then had a 5-on-3 power play for 86 seconds, but could not beat Tretyak until the closing stages of the second period when Ekaterina Dorofeyeva found the net. That was a belated reward for an improved showing from the home team.
However, when KRS got a 5-on-3 advantage at the start of the third the lead quickly jumped to 5-1. Mills rifled home the fourth just before Biryusa welcomed a fourth skater back to the ice and that enabled the power play to continue for Bozek to add a fifth. Then our girls ran into penalty trouble, and Biryusa’s Ksenia Rakcheyeva scored on us for the second time in two days to reduce that deficit. The home team might have scored a third late on, but Valeriya Pavlova’s effort was ruled out for a high stick as she swatted home a puck that looped up of a defender’s stick in front of Tretyak’s net.
Now the team remains in Krasnoyarsk for the start of the playoffs. Our best of three series against Biryusa starts Wednesday, March 3, with the faceoff at 9am Moscow Time. Game two is also in Krasnoyarsk, albeit with KRS as the nominal home team, at the same time on March 4. If needed, game three will take place in Stupino on March 7.