KRS Shenzhen 5 SKSO Yekaterinburg 2 (1-1, 2-1, 2-0)
The Lady Dragons continue their rise, recording a fifth successive victory in Mytishchi this afternoon. It’s just a few days since we visited SKSO on our epic road trip, and today we welcomed the WHL’s basement team to the Dragons’ Lair. The formbooks pointed to a home win, and that’s how it turned out – but only after Shenzhen overcame some spirited resistance from the underdog.
The game was an anniversary for two of our home-grown players. Fang Xin and Zhao Qinan made their 100th appearances in the WHL and were presented with commemorative jerseys before the puck drop. Both players are key parts of the program for club and country, representing Chinese hockey with distinction here with KRS and also in World Championship and Olympic play. It’s a pleasure to see both of them develop their game in Shenzhen colors.
Fang’s big day got even better when she potted the opening goal of the game. It came after six minutes when she joined Vasilisa Gudymenko on a breakaway and forced the puck past the stubborn Ravilya Ainullova at the second attempt. Ainullova had already proved a formidable obstacle as the Dragons looked for a fast start, only to see several good chances denied by the visiting goalie.
The sense that this game could turn into a battle was only reinforced when SKSO grabbed an immediate equalizer. Just 17 seconds after Fang’s goal, Viktoria Butorina grabbed an unlikely levellers, squeezing the puck between the near post and Karina Zolotaryova’s outstretched pad on a wraparound attempt.
That led to an evenly-matched first period, with Zolotaryova kept busier than expected by the visiting offense as she ensured we remained level at the intermission. However, early in the second period she was beaten by a power play effort from Kristina Sergeyeva. Suddenly, this was turning into a pressure game.
However, big challenges inspire big players. And there are few players in our league who can match our first line at its best. A couple of minutes after falling behind, Kaitlyn Tougas, Ryleigh Houston and Hannah Miller produced a lovely flowing move to tie the game. Miller had been close to opening the scoring in the first minute, only to be denied by a great save from Ainullova. Now she avenged that, and went on to inflict further punishment on the visitor. An instinctive snipe from the top of the circle ripped into the net, giving the goalie no chance and restoring our lead just before the midway mark.
The scoreline remained close at 3-2, but the game had changed. Now the Dragons were getting on top. SKSO’s youngsters started to tire and it was clear that one more ogal would take the result out of reach. That tally arrived early in the third period when Tougas converted off a Miller assist. And there was an appropriate finish to Fang’s 100th game when she potted an empty net goal to complete the scoring.
The teams meet again in Mytischi on Monday and another KRS victory could lift the Lady Dragons up to fifth in the WHL standings.