28 November 2021 Polar Bears, recap, Vanke Rays, WHL
KRS Vanke Rays 1 Beliye Medveditsy Chelyabinsk 0 (0-0, 0-0, 1-0)
The Vanke Rays quickly avenged Saturday’s loss to WHL newcomer Beliye Medveditsy – but once again our girls had to work hard to solve the visiting goalie. It took until midway through the third period to break the deadlock in this game, with Anna Segedi getting the all-important goal to separate the teams while Yuqing Wang posted her second shut-out of the season.
Sunday’s game was prefaced by a minute’s silence in memory of 16-year-old Valentin Rodionov, a promising forward in the Dynamo Moscow system who sadly passed away in intensive care on Saturday having collapsed during a game last week.
The first period was goalless and there were few clear chances at either end. Kassy Betinol had a presentable opportunity when she found a good shooting lane and fizzed in an effort that Milena Tretyak struggled to hold. Shortly afterwards, Viktoria Fyodorova carved her way through the Rays defense on a dangerous rush only to fan her shot when she got to Wang’s crease. Late in the session, Leah Lum also had a good shooting chance but was unable to extend Tretyak in the visitor’s net.
The first period played out in a very different manner from Saturday’s meeting. On that occasion, the Dragons were able to play an open, attacking game and could have added to their three first-period goals. Today, though, Igor Znarok tweaked Chelyabinsk’s tactics: our visitor adopted a more cautious approach and looked to stifle the game as much as possible. While that helped to reduce Tretyak’s workload, it had the knock-on effect of limiting offensive opportunities for the Polar Bears at the other end.
In the middle session, things changed. The Rays got far more pucks to the net, obliging Tretyak to stop 21 shots. However, as in Saturday’s game, or at least the second and third periods of that encounter, there was no way past the goalie. Too often, the execution in the final moment let our girls down, either choosing to shoot when a team-mate was better placed, or failing to get the right shot away when the Chelyabinsk net was exposed.
A power play at the start of the third period saw Leah Lum come closer than ever, striding forward and rattling a shot against the near post. Then, midway through the final frame, the Vanke Rays broke the deadlock at last when Anna Fairman’s center point shot whipped through traffic and Anna Segedi got the tip that finally ended Tretyak’s resistance. Including the latter stages of Saturday’s game, the teams played 93 minutes without a goal.
Segedi’s goal was not quite the end of the story, though. With three minutes left, a penalty on Camryn Wong handed the visitor a chance to save the game. But the Dragons defense was resolute, keeping the Polar Bears at bay for the first 45 seconds of the PK and frustrating Tatyana Shatalova to the point that she took a needless penalty of her own to liquidate that power play. As the game went into the final minute, the Vanke Rays had the extra player as well as the one-goal lead and managed to close out a hard-fought win. Wang finished with 18 saves for her shut-out.
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