KRS Vanke Rays 4 Biryusa Krasnoyarsk 3 SO (0-0, 2-1, 1-2, 0-0, 1-0)
Revenge is a dish best served cold. And, after Sunday’s 0-3 loss against Biryusa, there was something
cold-blooded about the way Kassy Betinol delivered a shoot-out win in the teams’ second meeting.
Betinol, who had already scored a tying goal in the 56 th minute, was entrusted with our fifth attempt
in the shoot-out. She had to score – Biryusa was up 1-0 thanks to Valeria Pavlova’s successful effort –
and duly did so. On to sudden death, and Betinol was straight back into action, looping out wide
before bearing down on Darya Gredzen’s net and lifting the puck over the young goaltender. At the
other end, Kimberly Newell denied Pavlova and the Dragons had the win.
Before that cold-blooded conclusion, though, we had a red-hot finish to regulation time. It seemed
to be going quietly as the Dragons led 2-1 midway through the third and had a power play to help
run down the clock. But the home team allowed a short-handed goal, had an effort wiped out by a
video review and then had to come from behind to force the extras in a finale where neither team
had any interest in cautiously playing out time.
That flurry of activity was a big contrast from 24 hours earlier, when our offense was unable to find
the keys to Biryusa’s netminding prospect Gredzen. Aside from that blank, our fourth of the season,
there’s a further issue with our scoring: the KRS power play has, thus far, not really fired. Just four
power play goals in 13 games before today, at an overall conversion rate of 9.1%, is not really good
Happily, after a goalless first period, the Dragons were able to do something to correct both of those
problems. Our second power play of the game arrived early in the middle frame, and it took just 10
seconds to turn it into a goal. After claiming possession, the Rays moved the puck back to the blue
line and Jessica Wong thumped in a shot that cannoned off the back boards. At first, it seemed that
Maddie Woo, battling on the slot, had forced it into the net; replays showed that the goal was
Wong’s, the puck bouncing over the line off Gredzen’s pads.
Biryusa responded strongly, launching a series of dangerous raids on Kimberly Newell’s net and
getting a reward when Evgeniya Larshina scored with a solo effort four minutes later.
By now, though, the Vanke Rays were showing their attacking power. Despite being pegged back,
the girls continued to create chances. An intercept set up Emily Costales for a one-on-one chance
that went begging, but shortly after that Leah Lum led a two-on-one break and set up Rachel Llanes
with a golden chance to make it 2-1. And, once back in front, there were chances to extend that lead
in the closing stages of the second period, with Llanes firing over when all alone in front of the net
and Biryusa struggling to clear its lines.
However, while our power play is still picking up speed, Biryusa has one of the best in the WHL. A big
part of dealing with this was better discipline, and today the Dragons did a good job of staying out of
the box. There were a couple of penalties – one in the first, one in the third – but the visitor was
unable to muster a shot on Newell on either occasion. That reinforced the Rays’ status as the best PK
in the league, running at more than 94% going into today’s game.
So it was somewhat ironic that when Biryusa managed to tie the game once again, it came during a
KRS power play. An error on the visitor’s blue line enabled the opposition not merely to get out but
to launch a counter that ended with Pavlova scoring on Newell.
Almost immediately, the puck was back in the Biryusa net. Llanes was the catalyst again and when
her rushed was stopped on the goal line by Gredzen’s pads, Costales followed up to stuff the puck
over the line. However, a video review concluded that the goalie was fouled and the effort was
In response, Pavlova raced clear once again to give Biryusa the lead for the first time in the game.
That’s her third goal in two games in Mytishchi, making the Krasnoyarsk captain the principal
scourge of our hopes this week.
Today, though, Pavlova was not going to leave with a comfortable victory. An action-packed third
period continued with a well-worked goal as the Rays tied the scores once again. Leah Lum was the
architect, twisting and turning her way down the left-hand channel before coming out of the corner
to set up Kassy Betinol for 3-3. That took us to overtime, but only after Newell pulled off a great save
with eight seconds on the clock to deny Pavlova a hat-trick and what would surely be the game
winner. The importance of that stop was only magnified by our domination in overtime and eventual
success in the shoot-out.
Following today’s game, the Vanke Rays get a bit of a pause. The next scheduled games are in
Chelyabinsk on Nov. 18 and 20 and that ushers in a run of eight games in 14 days before an
extended break from early December until after the Beijing Olympics.