11 November 2022
SKSO 3 KRS Shenzhen 4 (0-1, 2-2, 1-1)
The Lady Dragons made it back-to-back wins on their trip to Yekaterinburg, but game two of the series was a real battle against a spirited SKSO team. Our host clearly learned some lessons from yesterday’s 5-0 game and pushed Shenzhen all the way in a compelling spectacle.
The KRS line-up was the same as yesterday, except for a new back-up goalie. Karina Zolotaryova spent the last four seasons in Nizhny Novgorod with SKIF and joined the Dragons yesterday. She came into the team as understudy for Irina Kostina.
This time, all our goals came from the top line. That was quite a change from yesterday, where the scoring was shared around. Kaitlyn Tougas and Hannah Miller scored two each while Ryleigh Houston had four assists. However, at the other end we saw far more attacking enterprise from SKSO, ensuring that our girls never held a lead of more than one goal at any time in the game.
Our opening goal came midway through the first period. Shenzhen made a good start to the game, and got the first power play of the afternoon in the eighth minute when Alyona Bobyleva sat for hooking. SKSO survived that scare, but had no answers to the Dragons’ strike force when we forced an odd-man rush after 13 minutes. Miller distracted the home defense and Tougas was given all the time and space she needed to convert Houston’s feed.
That goal was enough to separate the teams at the first intermission. However, it was notable that SKSO was far from outgunned in the opening stanza. The stats put the home team ahead on the shot count, with Kostina making 10 saves to preserve that advantage.
Early in the second, SKSO’s efforts paid off when Viktoria Butorlina tied the scores. A face-off in our zone was inconclusive, the puck slithered free and Butorlina was on hand to bang it into the net. By the midway point in the game, penalties were piling up. A power play brought a second of the game for Tougas, but this one was all about Miller’s assist. Standing to the side of the net, Hannah produced a deft one-touch, no-look feed across the front of Alyona Ashina’s goal and Tougas applied the finish.
The penalties, and the goals, kept coming. SKSO tied it up on the power play almost immediately, then the home team again enjoyed an extra player. This time, though, our PK more than did its job. Houston won the puck in center ice and released Miller. With no defense in sight, Hannah slid her de facto penalty shot through Ashina’s five-hole to restore the lead.
Head coach Scott Spencer spoke of the importance of finding ways to win and establishing good habits on the team. That work ethic is clearly sinking in. Just look at the way Zhao Qinan made sure she had Kostina’s back when a shot squeezed through our goalie’s pads. Zhao was alert to the danger, bringing the loose puck away from danger before any forward could follow up to score.
There was also plenty of resilience on display after the Dragons ran into more misfortune early in the third. SKSO tied the game for a third time, this time thanks to Kristina Sergeyeva, and then the home team got a power play. Again, our PK stepped up and engineered a breakaway chance for Tougas that was ended by a foul. However, the penalty shot brought a big save from Ashina to keep the scores level.
It was the kind of moment that might have lifted the home team to go on and win in. Instead, though, KRS got back to full strength and almost immediately went in front. Houston’s angled shot forced Ashina into yet another save, but this time Miller was on the spot to put away the rebound.
That proved to be the decisive goal. SKSO pushed hard in the closing stages, and played the final 42 seconds with 6-on-4 after a penalty call on Miller. However, those good habits kicked in and our girls closed out a tough win.
The road trip continues next week with games in Chelyabinsk against Beliye Medveditsy. We face the Polar Bears on Monday and Wednesday, both times the face-off is at 1630 Moscow Time.