18 February 2023
Biryusa Krasnoyarsk 5 KRS Shenzhen 3 (4-1, 0-2, 1-0)
This was a big improvement. Not for the first time this season, the Lady Dragons bounced back from a big loss to produce a far more impressive display in the second game of a double-header. Although Saturday’s upswing was not enough to earn a victory over a Biryusa team with genuine hopes of winning the championship, it showed once again that KRS can compete with any opponent in this league.
Despite Friday’s heavy loss, there was no change to the Shenzhen roster today. That’s partly due to the smaller squad our team is running this season, but also partly to give the girls an opportunity to implement some of the lessons learned in the previous game.
Admittedly, we had to endure another rough first period before finding our feet in this game. Biryusa jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first 13 minutes. However, when Hannah Miller got the Dragons on the scoreboard, the game changed. Our opener was a well-worked goal, with Kaitlyn Tougas moving the play down to Ryleigh Houston behind the net. Houston then picked out a great diagonal pass for Miller, who got in front of her defender to slide the puck into the net.
Biryusa added one more before the first intermission, and got the puck in Karina Zolotaryova’s net a fifth time right on the hooter. That effort was called back, though, after a bench challenge highlighted the interference on Zolotaryova in the play.
At the start of the second, the Dragons faced some anxious moments on the power play, and Biryusa twice dinged the piping. However, back at full strength Shenzhen came back into the game with our top line firing on all cylinders. The second goal saw our offense hunting as a single unit and refusing to let Biryusa get the puck clear. Tougas forced the turnover, Houston took control of the puck and fed Miller between the hash marks to make it 2-4. Then, five minutes before the break, Tougas got the puck on her own blue line and galloped down the ice to set up Houston, who made it a one-goal game.
Going into the third at 3-4, there was every chance our girls could complete the fightback. That second period gave the team a real lift and a strong start to the final stanza could pose some serious questions for an opponent that had won all three of our previous encounters this term. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Despite plenty of fight from KRS, Oxana Mitrofanova completed her hat-trick to make it 5-3 for the home team. Almost immediately, the Dragons got a power play, but Biryusa defended stoutly to preserve their two-goal lead and showed all the game management you’d expect from a high-flying team to close out a victory in Krasnoyarsk’s final game of the regular season.
For Shenzhen, meanwhile, there are two more games to play before post-season. Next week we travel to Tornado to conclude the first phase of our 2022/23 campaign and make the final adjustments before the playoffs get underway.
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