7.62 Moscow Region 2 KRS Vanke Rays 3 (1-0, 0-2, 1-1)
Rachel Llanes scored her first two goals of the season to give Vanke Rays a hard-fought win in
Voskresensk on Sunday. The 30-year-old forward is one of the most experienced players on our
team and has been among the leading scorers in the Pari Match Women’s Hockey League over the
last two seasons. Today, she showed off her predatory instincts to put away a resilient 7.62 team
that was inspired by some fine goaltending from Anna Alpatova.
Llanes’ linemate Kassy Betinol also had a big game, getting her first goal in the WHL as the Lady
Dragons battled back from a goal down to secure a win with barely 90 seconds left on the clock.
Sunday’s team had three new faces. In goal, Siye He made her first appearance since the 2019/20
season. The 22-year-old featured in six games in that title-winning season but was forced into
inactivity last season during the worst of the pandemic. We also had two debutants on defense.
Yushun Dai, 22, played three seasons on China’s U18s, wearing the ‘A’ through two of them. Since
2016, though, her opportunities have been limited – until the Vanke Rays offered a route back into
the sport. For Yue Lyu, meanwhile, today marked a return to the Rays. The 26-year-old, who also has
a wealth of international experience, played 28 games in the CWHL in 2017/18.
For much of the first period, this felt like a battle between the Rays and home goalie Alpatova. The
19-year-old joined 7.62 from her hometown team, Torpedo, over the summer and her goaltending
has been a big factor in her new club’s improved results this term. In the first period she came up big
again, stopping 18 shots from KRS and backstopping 7.62 to an unlikely 1-0 lead after Sofia Boriskina
opened the scoring with a breakaway goal.
There wasn’t much wrong with the Rays’ performance in the opening frame and the pattern of play
did not change greatly in the second. 7.62 had a couple of power play chances, which put more
pressure on He in our net, but the best chance for the home team came at equal strength when
Polina Belozyorova was denied.
At the other end, Alpatova continued to serve as a formidable barrier, and it wasn’t until late in the
second period that the Lady Dragons tied the scores at last. Betinol broke clear down the right and
slung the puck into the center where Llanes was waiting to poach her first goal of the season. That
lifted the spell that had previously protected the home net and within a couple of minutes the Rays
had the lead. This time the roles were reversed: Llanes chased down the puck behind the net and
emerged to fire into Alpatova’s pads; Betinol was poised to pot the rebound. In her case, it was a
first career WHL marker.
In our previous meetings with 7.62, the final score was comfortably in our favor. Today, though, this
fast-improving opponent came into the third period with every reason to believe it could force a
result. Five minutes into the final frame, Darya Medyutova’s well-executed backhand finish tied the
scores once again and the outcome was absolutely in the balance.
However, the Vanke Rays boast plenty of big-game experience and Llanes came up with the clutch
play on 58:35, forcing the puck home after Anna Freeman found her at the back door.
Sunday’s victory moves the Rays to nine points from six games and gives Brian Idalski’s team a share
of sixth place alongside Tornado. The girls are back in action in midweek, with a visit to WHL
newcomer Ice Wings Yaroslavl for games on Wednesday and Thursday.