Lady Dragons set for playoffs | KRS Vanke Rays

Lady Dragons set for playoffs

13 February 2023 , , , ,

Dynamo Neva 6 KRS Shenzhen 1 (2-0, 1-1, 3-0)

KRS Shenzhen returned to Women’s Hockey League action today after a short break – and the team had some great news ahead of our trip to Petersburg to face Dynamo Neva.

At a meeting of league executives last week, the playoffs were extended to include eight teams rather than the four initially planned. As a result, the Lady Dragons are now guaranteed a return to post season for the fourth successive campaign. Moreover, we’ll have a chance to defend our title when the post season action gets underway at the start of March.

That was a big boost for the team ahead of a busy week of four road games. After all, results since our last game – an impressive overtime victory over runaway leader Agidel – ruled our team out of a top-four finish and potentially ended our season prematurely. Now, though, the battle goes on and hopefully takes us to the end of March and another grand final.

It also added some extra spice to our trip to Petersburg. Based on the current league standings, Dynamo Neva is likely to be our first playoff opponent.

Meanwhile, KRS is also looking towards the women’s upcoming World Championship campaign in Shenzhen in April. Thus Wang Yuqing got the start in goal today ahead of Irina Kostina. Wang, of course, is likely to feature for Team China in international play this season; the Russian Kostina is ineligible.

We also have history with Dynamo this season. Back in October, while Scott Spencer’s roster was still settling into its game, our first victory of the campaign came when Irina Tsatsyna’s overtime goal snapped a 3-3 tie in Mytishchi. Given the strength of the Neva roster, stacked with international talent, that was no small achievement. It inspired a run of greatly improved form that changed the shape of our season.

Today’s game did not reach those heights. Dynamo arrived on a run of five straight wins and was able to build on that sequence. The first period saw a big defensive effort from our girls – of 31 attempts on goal, just eight made their way to Wang’s net as the whole team played its part in blocking up shooting lanes and making it hard for the home team to threaten. Unfortunately, that effort was not well rewarded on the scoreboard. A power play goal from Fanuza Kadirova, followed by a marker from our old friend Alexandra Vafina, gave our host a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

There was a chance of a recovery early in the second when we had a five-on-three power play. Dynamo saw one player return to the game, but Kaitlyn Tougas halved the deficit with a goal before the end of the PP. However, penalty trouble returned to haunt our girls. Polina Bolgareva converted a power play midway through the second period.

In the third, Oxana Bratishcheva extended the lead with a goal immediately after the Dragons killed a penalty. Then another former KRS player, Maria Pushkar, added a fifth. That goal, too, came seconds after the end of a Dynamo power play. Bolgareva added her second of the day to complete the scoring. Shenzhen will look for better when the teams meet again tomorrow.

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