KRS Shenzhen 6 Agidel Ufa 5 OT (2-2, 2-1, 1-2, 1-0)
This one was just like old times. Throughout KRS’s time in Russia’s Women’s Hockey League, our games against Agidel have been action-packed thrillers – and today’s was one of the best. The action ebbed and flowed in regulation with both teams holding the lead as we traded 10 goals. Then, in the extras, Irina Tsatsyna smashed home her second of the game to secure a spectacular victory against the league leader.
It was a day of notable achievements. Five of our six goals came on the power play. Ryleigh Houston had 4 (2+2) points, taking here career total for Shenzhen to 50. Houston, 24, reached her half century in her 41st game for the club after making her debut in the 2021 playoffs. More importantly, her two goals in the second period overturned a 2-3 deficit to give our team a vital lead.
Kaitlyn Tougas also had four points in the game, Tsatsyna grabbed two goals and leading scorer Hannah Miller grabbed goal and an assist on the game-winner. At the other end, despite allowing five goals, Karina Zolotaryova impressed once again. She had some crucial saves on the PK in the third period when Agidel was chasing the game.
The Dragons went with an unchanged line-up for the second of our back-to-backs against Agidel. And head coach Scott Spencer’s faith in his team was richly rewarded with a terrific display against the league leader.
Yesterday’s 1-3 loss showed that KRS could compete with the best in this league. Today’s performance did not merely underline that point, it worked it up into a PowerPoint presentation to share with all-comers.
The key to our success was hard work and relentless pressure on the opposition. Agidel simply was not allowed to settle to its game and the opposition proved unable to cope with this. The visitor took all-too-frequent penalties, and the Red Star power play took full advantage.
Tougas was the lynchpin. First, she set up Tsatsyna for a slap shot that whistled past Anna Prugova midway through the first period. That cancelled out Maria Batalova’s opener for Agidel. Then Kaitlyn scored herself to make it 2-1 during a passage of four-on-three play. Houston’s helper took her to 50 points for the club, but she was just getting started in this game.
Agidel, of course, is always a dangerous rival. Elizaveta Rodnova tied the game nine seconds before the first intermission, and the visitor went back ahead in this rollercoaster game when Ilona Markova beat Zolotaryova on the short side.
However, the Dragons power play got another terrific chance when two Ufa players went to the box. Those penalties were punished to the maximum with Houston scoring twice. First, Tougas teed her up while Kiana Wilkinson screened Prugova. The wrist shot flew through the traffic and into the top corner.
The power play continued, and so did Houston. This time she got the puck in the corner and fired it from out wide to get a billiard-style goal off Prugova’s equipment.
However, the game was missing something. After four goals without a contribution from our leading scorer, Hannah Miller put things right early in the third period. This was our first equal-strength goal of the game, yet Hannah found space enough to collect Houston’s pass at the back door and wait for Prugova to commit herself. Once the goalie made her decision, Miller flipped the puck past her to make it 5-3.
That was the first time this season any time scored five on the league leader. And it might have been six on yet another power play when Wilkinson was left all alone on the slot. This time, though, Prugova got behind the shot to make a save that kept her team in the game. Her stop looked even more important a few minutes later when Batalova’s deflected shot brought her a second tally of the day to make it a one-goal game once more.
Next, in a game dominated by our power play, it was the Dragons’ PK that faced a serious examination. Resolute defense, and a couple of highlight reel saves from Zolotaryova preserved the home lead. However, another PP late in the game proved too much: Rodnova rifled home her 31st goal of the season from between the hashmarks to drag the game into overtime.
Crucially, though, Red Star went into the extras with a power play. Once again, the extra player proved vital. Tsatsyna set up Miller for a shot, Prugova beat the puck clear but it went straight back to Tsatsyna. Our defender set herself and smashed it into the net to snatch a thrilling win and spark huge celebrations. This was definitely a day to remember.