19 November 2021 Polar Bears, recap, Vanke Rays, WHL
Beliye Medveditsy Chelyabinsk 0 KRS Vanke Rays 1 (0-1, 0-0, 0-0)
The Vanke Rays had a successful first visit to Chelyabinsk, picking up a hard-fought 1-0 victory in the
south Urals. For long periods, this game turned into a battle against our former goaltender Milena
Tretiak, who joined the Polar Bears in the summer and produced a brave performance against a
forward line full of familiar faces. However, her 34 saves were not enough to deny us the win, which
came thanks to Kassy Betinol’s first-period goal.
The Lady Dragons were not at full strength here. From the team that defeated Biryusa in our last
WHL outing, there were several changes. On defense, team captain Beiwei Yu and the experienced
duo of Kaitlin Tse and Jessica Wong sat this one out. Up front, we were without Emily Costales. In
their place came 19-year-old blue liner Qianhua Li, making her second appearance of the season,
and Yue Lyu, playing her fourth game of the year. Up front, Shuang Lu was called into action for the
second time this season. And there was a start for goalie Tia Chan, backed up by Yuqing Wang.
This line-up, perhaps, was not a huge surprise. As one of this season’s expansion teams (Yaroslavl’s
Ice Wings is the other), Chelyabinsk is on a steep learning curve and has yet to win a home game.
Therefore, it was a good opportunity for Brian Idalski to look at some of the depth in his roster, while
ensuring there was sufficient know-how on the ice to take care of business.
And that strategy paid off in the early exchanges. The Vanke Rays made the breakthrough in the
ninth minute, a fair reward for an enterprising start to the game. Initially there seemed to be little
danger as a three-on-three rush moved into the Chelyabinsk zone. However, the home defense
misread the situation and all three players went to track the run of Taylor Lum as she headed for
Tretiak’s net. That opened up space in the center of the zone and Leah Lum’s pass cut out the
opposition completely to give Kassy Betinol the shooting lane for the opening goal.
Subsequently, though, the route to the Chelyabinsk net was strewn with obstacles – most of them
laid in our path by Tretiak. The Rays were dominant, working effectively to limit the home team’s
scoring chances and generating plenty of offense at the other end. But the puck stubbornly refused
to get back in the net. There were good chances for Anna Segedi, most notably a rush down the left-
hand channel that drew a fine pad save from Milena, while Lu Wen also tested the home goalie early
in the second and Rachel Llanes posed a constant threat.
However, with the game poised at 1-0, there was always the risk of allowing a goal against the run of
play. Chan had to be alert on occasion, most notably when Natalya Vorontsova’s point shot took a
dangerous deflection from Viktoria Fyodorova midway through the second stanza. Our young goalie
tracked its flight all the way to her glove, keeping her goal intact on the way to a second shut-out in
four appearances this season.
As the game wore on, it became clear that the Rays’ discipline and game management would secure
the ‘W’. Impressively for a team that has endured penalty trouble at times this season, today’s game
yielded just two minors. And the PK worked brilliantly when it had to: late in the game, with
Chelyabinsk looking to replace Tretiak with a sixth skater, our girls shrugged off the loss of Anna
Fairman to a tripping call and restricted the home team so effectively that the goalie remained on
the ice until the final hooter.
Round two of this trip takes place on Saturday at the start of a double header of KRS action. The
Ladies kick us off at 11 am Moscow time, then it’s the turn of the guys on the road at Vityaz at 5pm.
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