KRS Vanke Rays 1 SKIF Nizhny Novgorod 2 SO (0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)
The second game of a back-to-back pair is often a cagey affair – one need only think back to our
opening match-up of the season against Agidel, where a 0-5 loss was followed immediately by an
overtime win. This week, after starting with a narrow reverse against SKIF, the Vanke Rays again tied
in regulation against one of the WHL’s top teams. This time, not even overtime could separate the
teams and we went all the way to a shoot-out.
Both KRS and SKIF have unhappy recent experiences in shoot-outs. In last season’s playoffs, a pair of
shoot-out losses in the semi-final saw our visitor beaten by Agidel. Then the team from Ufa came to
Mytishchi in the championship final and got a verdict on those post-game shots. Perhaps the
psychological effects of that loss still lingered for some of our girls: it was notable that Xin Fang, who
did not feature in that playoff series, was our only scorer with a calmly executed piece of skill.
However, despite missing out by the narrowest of margins when Oxana Bratishcheva separated the
teams in sudden death, there were again positives to take from the game.
Following Monday’s 0-2 loss, Brian Idalski made some changes to his team. Goalie Kimberly Newell
was the only new face, taking over from Tia Chan between the piping. In front of her, the defensive
combinations remained intact, but three of our attacking lines were refreshed. Xin Fang returned to
the first line, centering Rachel Llanes and Leah Lum. Anna Segedi and Taylor Lum moved onto the
second line, where they were joined by Emily Costales. The third player from Monday’s top line,
Maddie Woo, went to the third line where she was flanked by Kassy Betinol and Minghui Kong. The
fourth line of Mengying Zhang, Rui Zhu and Wen Lu was unchanged.
In the first meeting between the teams, SKIF had the better of the early exchanges and set the tone
for a game that relied heavily on Chan’s goaltending to keep the Rays in contention. Today, learning
from that, the Lady Dragons were much more active from the start. The first period was goalless, but
the teams were hard to separate in terms of the balance of play and Valeria Tarakanova in the SKIF
net was rather busier than she had been 24 hours before.
The second period saw the Rays enjoy more possession and create more scoring chances. The
Llanes-Fang-Lum combination caused significant problems around the SKIF net but could not find the
finishing touch to several dangerous situations. Then, against the run of play, the visitor took the
lead when Alyona Starovoitova emerged from behind the net to squeeze a rising shot inside Newell’s
near post. KRS responded by redoubling its offensive efforts and tied things up with a power play
goal from Anna Segedi. Zhixin Liu’s point shot bounced out onto the slot and Kassy Betinol joined
Segedi in battling for possession before the latter stuffed the puck home.
In the third, the teams were again evenly matched and both sets of players produced cautious
hockey, mindful of the price of a mistake in a game where goals and clear scoring chances were
always at a premium. In overtime, the Rays looked fresher and more effective until a dangerous
break from Landysh Falyakhova forced Llanes into a foul to save her team. That put us onto the PK
for the closing minute and ushered in a shoot-out that went against our girls.
A busy start to the season continues for the Vanke Rays with a short trip to Voskresensk on Friday to
face 7.62. Victory there would lift the team to fifth in the table.