7.62 3 KRS Shenzhen 2 (0-0, 1-2, 2-0)
After a three-game winning streak, the Lady Dragons suffered a tough loss in Voskresensk. A hat-trick from Irina Kulagina cost our girls dear, with the game winning goal coming in the final minute of play.
Head coach Scott Spencer made minimal changes to the team that won 4-2 at home to this opponent on Monday. Teenage defender Alexandra Pyrkova missed this game, and there was a small change to the running order with the Wen-Wang-Qu line elevated to second. Otherwise, it was as you were for KRS.
Our home wins against 7.62 came in competitive battles, and the first period brought more of the same here. The teams were evenly-matched in a first period that brought no goals and few clear-cut chances at either end. However, after the intermission everything escalated quickly.
The home team thought it had snatched a lead early the second period. However, as a 7.62 stick batted the puck into the net, it was raised above the crossbar and a video review wiped out the play. That was somewhat against the run of play: Shenzhen dominated much of the middle frame, outshooting 7.62 by 15-2 and producing some of the hockey we grew accustomed to enjoying in our championship seasons. So allowing the first legitimate goal of the game in the 35th minute was a shock to the system.
Happily, Kulagina’s opener gave us the jolt we needed to fire up the offense and get on the scoreboard. It took just 28 seconds to tie the game, with Ryleigh Houston finding the net for the first time since she returned from injury. Our top line combined superbly to create this chance, with Kaitlyn Tougas sending Hannah Miller down the right-hand channel and Mi Le delivering a delicious backhand feed onto Houston’s stick for the finish.
And that was merely the starter. On 36:57, less than two minutes after falling behind, the Lady Dragons were up 2-1. A solid pressing game had 7.62 trapped in its own zone and, after a string of attacking face-offs, Shenzhen took the lead. Irina Tsatsyna’s shot rattled back off the boards, where Qu Yue was on hand for her first goal in the WHL. The 18-year-old forward …
KRS took that lead to the intermission and, with 20 minutes to play, few would have bet against the Dragons extending their winning streak. After all, a dominant second period performance displayed greater control of the game than a 2-1 scoreline might suggest.
Naturally, 7.62 looked to step up the tempo in the third period as it tried to get back on level terms. However, there was little prospect of success for the home team until a tripping call on Kiana Wilkinson gave a power play chance in the 48th minute. Kulagina took that opportunity, with Ekaterina Davletshina picking up her now traditional assist against us.
It was a similar story late in the game. The action was drifting towards overtime when Wilkinson was sent to the box once again. And history repeated itself when Kulagina completed her hat-trick on 59:02. With almost a minute left, Shenzhen wanted to get straight on the attack and try to salvage something. However, it took time to secure control of the puck, and in the end, Irina Kostina could only get to her bench with 29 seconds left on the clock. That wasn’t long enough to find a tying goal.
Friday’s loss sees KRS fall behind 7.62 in the WHL standings. However, there is an immediate chance to put that right when the teams meet again on Saturday, starting at 1300 Moscow Time.