Dynamo Neva 4 KRS Shenzhen 5 (0-3, 2-1, 2-1)
Sometimes, history does repeat itself. Back in the fall, the Lady Dragons bounced back from a heavy loss against Dynamo Neva to record their first victory of the season. Today, after defeat in St. Petersburg yesterday, our girls rebounded once again to edge a high-scoring game against a potential playoff opponent.
The big team news ahead of the game saw Karina Zolotaryova replace Wang Yuqing as starting goalie. She went on to play a huge role in securing the win, stopping 47 of the 51 shots she faced in a game where, at times, Dynamo threatened to dominate.
However, unlike yesterday’s game, the home team never got ahead. The first period was one of the best we’ve seen from our team this season as constant pressure on the opposition forced a string of penalties and a 3-0 lead. In the space of 66 seconds, from 14:49 to 15:55, KRS drew four fouls from the home team. Armed with a lengthy five-on-three power play, we parlayed that into a three-goal lead.
The first of those three actually came on a delayed penalty call, with Zolotaryova benched in favor of a sixth skater. That kind of overload was too much for the Dynamo defense, and Kaitlyn Tougas found plenty of space to slot home a feed from Ryleigh Houston. Dipping onto one knee inside the left-hand circle, Tougas’ finish had more than a hint of Artemy Panarin about it.
That was only the start. From a similar position on the edge of the circle, Tougas played a spot of billiards to drill the puck across the face of Diana Farkhutdinova’s goal and into the net via a defender’s skate. Still on the power play, and with Tougas still quarterbacking proceedings from her office, Red Star added a third when Hannah Miller roasted a one-timer into the net off Fang Xin’s feed. On St. Valentine’s Day, our girls were loving this.
The only blemish on a fantastic first period came with six seconds left when Du Sijia took a major penalty for boarding. That gifted Dynamo the chance to press from the start of the second period. Even though our girls killed the penalty, the momentum of the game shifted. From now on, it was going to be a battle. Fanuza Kadirova pulled a goal back, then a passage of four-on-four play saw Anastasia Chistyakova make it 2-3 midway through the game. The bookmakers changed their odds dramatically, making Dynamo the odds-on favorite even though the home team still trailed.
However, backing the favorite is a mug’s game when it comes to betting. The Dragons showed exactly why as they weathered a storm of pressure and emerged with an all-important goal late in the frame. Vasilisa Gudymenko, our teenage sensation, grabbed this one – and she did it almost all by herself, forcing a center ice turnover and converting a two-on-one rush with Fang in support.
There was more to come at the start of the third when Tougas completed her hat-trick and made it four goals in two games in Petersburg this week. This was perhaps the pick of the bunch, with Kaitlyn showing great pace to take a loose puck down the ice to convert defense into offense. Bursting into the Dynamo zone, she shrugged off the attentions of Liana Ganeyeva, drifted across the front of the net and fired a devastating shot past Farkhutdinova, who had moved far from her crease.
Once again, Red Star had a three-goal lead. And, once again, we needed it. Chistyakova potted her second goal of the game, and a couple of minutes later Polina Bolgareva made it 4-5 with 12 minutes to play. The rest of the game was largely played in Shenzhen territory – Tougas’ third goal was our only shot on target in the final frame. However, with Zolotaryova in resolute mood and our defense giving it everything, we had enough to get the job done.
There won’t be much time for the Lady Dragons to rest. The team heads to Krasnoyarsk for games against Biryusa on Feb. 17 and 18.