SKSO Yekaterinburg 0 KRS Shenzhen 5 (0-2, 0-2, 0-1)
The Lady Dragons powered to their biggest win of the season with an emphatic display in the Urals. Irina Kostina enjoyed our first shut-out of the campaign, Hannah Miller led the scoring with two goals and 16-year-old Vasilisa Gudymenko got her first in the Women’s Hockey League.
Despite back-to-back defeats in Voskresensk at the weekend, head coach Scott Spencer kept faith with the same personnel. The only changes saw Kostina resume starting duties in goal ahead of Wang Yuqing, while on defense Irina Tsatsyna joined Kiana Wilkinson on the first pair. Li Qinahua moved to the third couple alongside Wang Jinyan to accommodate that switch.
SKSO came into the game seeking its first win of the season. The Yekaterinburg outfit is very much a development team, and generally focusses on giving opportunities to young players. It has a good record of nurturing talent – and that is something that Shenzhen has benefitted from. Goalie Kostina, now 24, played the last three seasons here after struggling to get game time at Dynamo. Tsatsyna began this season at SKSO, and was second in team scoring for the club last term with 18 (5+13) points from the blue line. Today she would add two more points at this arena, this time in Red Star’s colors.
The Dragons started fast, pressing Alyona Ashina’s net from the first moments. The home team called a time-out after just five minutes in a bid to stem the tide, but it made little difference. With seven minutes played, that pressure brought an opening goal as Miller led a breakaway, exchanged passes with Ryleigh Houston then thumped the puck home from the back door.
A couple of minutes later, it was 2-0. Qu Yue got the goal, albeit with a little help from the defense. Qu’s attempted feed for Wang Lu was intercepted, but Ekaterina Shinkina could only steer the puck back to our 18-year-old forward. Qu gleefully accepted the opportunity for her second goal in three games.
The second period was all about a happy homecoming from Tsatsyna. Our 20-year-old defender was a popular and productive player during her time at SKSO and today she returned with a reminder of her qualities. First, she set up Miller’s second of the game on the power play, moving along the blue line to find a passing lane then releasing Hannah at the top of the left-hand circle. Then Irina scored her second goal since joining Shenzhen. This was a solo effort, with Tsatsyna intercepting a clearance in center ice, waiting until the O-zone was clear for a renewed attack, then cutting a swathe through the home defense before lifting a wrister into the top corner from the left-hand dot.
Amid KRS’s dominance, Kostina had relatively little to do against her former colleagues. However, she did have to make a few big saves to preserve her shut-out. One of the best came at the start of the third period when Maria Lobur stole the puck on the Shenzhen slot and looked to score with an immediate snipe. Kostina’s positioning was perfect, swallowing the puck and denying the home team even a hint of a way back into the game.
The final word today went to Gudymenko. Our offense again demonstrated how to make the most of a turnover close to the net, with Houston collecting a loose puck and sending it to the unmarked Gudymenko. The 16-year-old, who joined us during this season after previously representing Moscow in a u18 regional tournament, scored her first WHL goal on Ravilya Aynullova.
Tomorrow brings a rematch for these two teams, with KRS looking to build on Monday’s strong start to the week.