KRS Vanke Rays 2 Agidel Ufa 1 OT (1-0, 0-1, 0-0, 1-0)
An overtime goal from Xin Fang brought the KRS Vanke Rays a first victory of the Women’s Hockey
League season – and against the defending champion. Fang, centering our first line, is already
showing signs of forming a dangerous partnership with her more established team-mates Rachel
Llanes and Leah Lum and got her reward today in Mytishchi.
The goal came a minute into the extras, with Fang reacting first after Anna Prugova padded away a
Llanes shot. The Russian international offered up rather too much of a rebound, and our 27-year-old
forward from Harbin needed no second invitation to secure a memorable win over Agidel. For Fang
herself, it was a first goal in the Russian WHL, although she previously contributed 10 (5+5) points
across two seasons with us in the CWHL.
Friday’s game was an immediate chance for the new-look Vanke Rays to avenge the opening day
defeat handed out by Agidel. That 0-5 loss gave fair warning of the work that is needed this season
to make an inexperienced roster competitive at this level. Today’s success proved that a steep
learning curve is nothing daunting for the Lady Dragons, who bounced back in style to land a
deserved victory over a team stacked with Russian internationals.
There were some changes in personnel. Among our forwards, Danielle Castino came in from Yunlin
Pi. Castino, an American-born dual national, has played much of her hockey to date in the NCAA with
Merrimack College and the 20-year-old featured for Team China in the recent Open Cup in Sochi.
This was her first experience of the WHL, while Pi, 21, had 21 appearances for the Rays in our
championship season of 2019/20.
At the other end of the ice, Kimberly Newell returned in goal, and her experience and ability to
marshal her defense contributed much to a rather more structured display. On Wednesday, a flurry
of early goals left our team with too much to do against a powerful opponent; today, there was no
That, in turn, ensured that the Vanke Rays got a chance to show off their offensive capabilities. The
home team took the game to Agidel and deservedly went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The goal came on the power play, when Anna Segedi combined well with Kassy Betinol before
scoring on Anna Prugova from close range. Betinol, 20, is another dual-national with NCAA
experience; Segedi, 21, has a similar background. This is their first season with the team and these
were their first points in our colors.
The second period, too, brought scoring opportunities for the Rays. Familiar faces like Leah Lum and
Rachel Llanes had good looks at Prugova’s net, Xin Fang was also menacing on a first line that is
already showing promising signs. On defense, there was hard work to do killing three penalties
against one of the most effective power plays in the WHL, but hard work is in this team’s DNA and
the threat was averted.
All of which made it even more frustrating when Newell was beaten at last, and by a short-handed
tally. Agidel got forward in a bid to eat up some seconds, and Elina Mitrofanova managed to pick out
Ksenia Tyurina in front of the net for a tying goal in the 35th minute.
In the third period, as often happens in a tight game, both teams played cautiously. But the Rays had
a chance to win it late on when Emily Costales capitalized on a turnover in center ice and sprinted towards Prugova’s net. She was only halted by a foul from Tyurina, and the subsequent power play
saw Jessica Wong hit the post with a powerful effort from the blue line and Beiwei Yu failed to get a
good connection with the rebound.
But that missed chance was forgotten in overtime as a roster that represents the core of Team
China’s Olympic party grabbed victory over a good chunk of the likely Team Russia line up for next
year’s Games. The result suggests that, while there is undoubtedly much to do to prepare for China’s
upcoming battles with the best in the world, there are plenty of positives on which to build. And
those same foundations can help to underpin another competitive campaign in the Women’s