Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 4 KRS Shenzhen 0 (0-0, 1-0, 3-0)
The Lady Dragons, depleted by injuries, suffered a second loss in Nizhny Novgorod. Despite a brave goaltending performance from Wang Yuqing, Torpedo proved to strong. A couple of late goals gave the scoreline a more lopsided look than Red Star’s performance deserved.
Our second game with Torpedo saw several changes to the line-up. Liu Zhixin, injured in the final seconds of Friday’s action, was unable to play. That left the Dragons with six on defense. Our attack switched to three lines. The familiar import line of Hannah Miller, Ryleigh Houston and Kaitlyn Tougas was broken up: Houston did not play, Miller centered a new first line with Wang Jiaxin and Qu Yue, while Tougas joined Pi Yunlin and Wen Lu on the third line. The familiar Xing-Fang-Yang line remained intact.
For the second time in two days, the first period was goalless. In contrast with Friday’s game, when Torpedo outshot our girls 19-2 as the Dragons battled on the penalty kill for long spells, this was a much tighter and more disciplined affair. The penalty count was limited to four minutes each and, while Wang Yuqing was again the busier netminder, there was some important work for her opposite number Valeria Tarakanova as well.
Unfortunately, the start of the second period also recalled Friday’s game. Torpedo got a goal early in the session, Ekaterina Likhachyova scoring on the power play, just as it did the day before. That changed the complexion of the game. The home team stepped up a gear, and a short-benched Shenzhen roster struggled to stay in the game. Wang’s goaltending was majestic, stopping 19 shots through the session and that kept us in contention. Once again, there was sterling work from the Dragons’ PK, holding Torpedo at bay during a major penalty for Kiana Wilkinson.
Torpedo’s five-minute power play extended into the third period. Shenzhen held on, but were unable to get the momentum boost they needed at the start of the final frame. Instead, it was the host that continued to press. The all-important second goal went to Darya Dutseva in the 45th minute and after that the game was always running away from our girls. Wang continued to impress in goal. She would finish the game with 53 saves, a courageous effort in testing circumstances. Credit also goes to our defense, which did a good job of absorbing some intense pressure. Unfortunately, the missing players today made it incredibly difficult to pose an offensive threat at the other end, resulting in a disappointing outcome.
To make matters worse, the final couple of minutes saw Torpedo add two more goals. Alyona Starovoitova found the empty net, then Likhachyova got her second of the game in the last minute.
The Dragons’ challenging start to the season continues with a trip to Ufa at the end of the week. Agidel, a team that twice faced KRS in playoff final series, is the host for games on Thursday and Friday.