By David F. Pendrys
STAMFORD, CT – The Connecticut Whale had come together only 3 times prior to this meeting with the Russian National Team Sunday afternoon at Terry Conners Ice Rink. The result was an 8-2 victory for Russia as the Olympic bound squad who has played together for years was able to outscore a Whale team which is a mix of familiar faces and newcomers.
The returning players seemed to be connecting on their efforts, as the players with Whale helmets often were making plays throughout. The newcomers were still adjusting but also playing critical roles. Amanda Boulier was especially noticeable on defense at many points during game play. Jamie Goldsmith had two assists as well.
The Whale, whose uniforms did not arrive on time due to a shipping error, took to the ice in Connecticut Junior Rangers uniforms, with an assortment of other gear either from past Whale seasons or from college creating an interesting mix. Goaltender Sydney Rossman did have pads in Whale colors though.
The first period started off fairly evenly as the Whale showed physicality and the two teams went back and forth looking for opportunities. Russia would start to gain an advantage though. The first goal of the game came at 9:51 when a shot flew onto Rossman and bounced off for a rebound. Anna Shokhina was there to tap it in to the open side of the net. Assisted by Alevtina Shtareva and Elena Dergachyova.
Later in the period, Fanuza Kadirova scored a goal after using a nice move to get in close to the net at 15:42 assisted by Evgeniya Dyupina and Elina Mitrofanova.
Liudmila Belyakova would add on a third Russian goal on the power play late at 19:02. She had parked herself centered right in front of the Whale net and when the puck came to her she whisked it in. Assists went to Galina Skiba and Anna Shibanova.
After a long scoreless period in the second, Nina Pirogova launched a shot from the point and it found the back of the goal. Shokhina and Dergachyova had assists on the blast.
Only a minute or so later, Belyakova shot the puck from the corner to Diana Kanaeva who redirected it in.
Connecticut broke the shutout at 18:02 when Shannon Doyle launched a slapper on the power play past Mariia Sorokina.Assists went to Elena Orlando and Goldsmith.
Russia would keep up the pressure in the third, as Shibanova scored during a power play assisted by Skiba and Dyupina.
About a minute later on another power play, Pirogova scored again from right in front of Laura Brennan assisted by Shokhina and Dergachyova.
The final Russian goal came a few minutes later when Shtareva broke in, outmaneuvered the D and scored a goal also assisted by Shokhina and Dergachyova.
The Whale however had a stronger third period in terms of their opportunities and they didn’t stop fighting for another goal. Late in the frame, on the power play Connecticut collapsed in on the Russian net, and Kelly Babstock got the loose puck and batted it in. Goldsmith and the tenacious Sam Faber picked up the assists. Faber had numerous quality scoring attempts during the third.
It was quite the challenge for the Whale team to face an Olympic level opponent at this early stage in the season, but there was also signs of things coming together.
The Whale faces Russia again on Tuesday night.
(This is a not exhaustive very imperfect list of noticed plays that might not make the score sheet. It is very possible a player has far more of any sort of play than are noticed in the heat of action. It is what it is. Read these more as a player had “at least” what is noted here. Note the language is a bit stilted, I’m trying to figure out how to make the information flow better.) (Plays are missed when I’m writing down the plays I’m writing down. Also notes sometimes are not legible. Apologies.)
(Note these are based on the supplied roster numbers.)
Emily Fluke: Fought it out of her zone. Later got the puck in the Whale end and sent it away. She also stole the puck in the Russian end.
Jamie Goldsmith: Had at least two blocks. One of which she followed by exiting the puck from the Whale zone. She also had a block on the penalty kill. She also collected and exited the disc from the defensive area.
Elena Orlando : Had at least one clear on the PK and a zone exit at even strength.
Sam Faber: She had multiple zone entries into the Russian end including a breakaway shot that was saved. Exhibited great stick handling. Also intercepted a Russian centering pass and skated out of danger.
Cydney Roesler: Had a breakaway into the opposing end. Also stole the puck in her zone and started it out.
Cassie Dunne: Disrupted multiple Russian zone entries, and intercepted the puck before skating it out of the zone.
Juana Baribeau: Kept the puck in the Russian zone. Blocked a shot and got it clear of the Whale blue line. Also intercepted the puck in the neutral zone.
Jordan Brickner: Had several blocks, at least one steal, disrupted a Russian shot, and kept the puck in the zone on a power play.
Denise Cardello: Retrieved the puck from the zone and got it out.
Amanda Boulier: Stole the puck in the neutral zone, had a clear on the penalty kill. Whisked the puck out of the goal mouth to a teammate who exited it from the zone. She also kept the puck in the zone on the offensive attack, and had a break away of her own. Later she disrupted a Russian setup on the defensive side.
Anya Battaglino: Kept the puck within the blue line on the attack. Also disrupted a Russian offensive move and sent the puck away.
Shannon Doyle: Disrupted a shot, kept the puck in the Russian zone multiple times, had an even strength clear, and messed with an opposing zone entry. She also had a shot on the power play, extracted the biscuit from the Whale end, had a steal in the neutral zone, and sent it to Babstock who sent it to Faber for a scoring try.
Rachael Ade: Intercepted the puck in the offensive end for a scoring chance. She also got it out of the Whale goal mouth, and later extracted the puck from the zone. She also skated the puck in on the attack numerous times.
Kelly Babstock: Intercepted a Russian pass in their end, intercepted a centering pass in her zone. Stick handled mightily into the Russian end multiple times. Had shots naturally.
Kaycie Anderson: Grabbed the puck in the Whale end and got it out.
Grace Klienbach: Had at least one shot.
Liudmila Belyakova: Brought it in to the zone, at another time got the puck in the defensive end and started it out. Stole the puck in the middle of the ice. This is an understatement as she was a critical part of the offense.
Liana Ganeyeva: Had several clears on the penalty kill and disrupted a Whale attack.
Ekaterina Lobova: Exited the puck from the Russia zone.
Nina Pirogova: Had a clear on the PK, also acquired the puck in the Russian end and started it out.
Fanuza Kadirova: Kept the puck in the Whale zone during the attack. She had a breakaway on net, though the save was made. She also stole the puck during a PK and got it out of the zone. At even strength later she grabbed the puck and brought it out of the Russian end.
Olga Sosina: Skated the puck into the offensive zone. Later on the penalty kill moved the disc into the Whale end for a scoring chance. Stole the puck in the neutral zone, and also on another penalty kill wasted time in the Whale zone.
Mariia Batalova: Snatched the puck in the defensive zone and got it out.
Ekaterina Likhacheva: Had a least one shot.
Elena Dergachyova: Had at least one shot other than her goal.
Anna Shokhina: Had a scoring chance which was saved. Later skated it in for an opportunity. Defensively on the penalty kill intercepted a centering pass and instead moved the biscuit across the blue line.
Alevtina Shtareva: Grabbed the puck on the penalty kill and exited the zone.
Elina Mitrofanova: Cleared it on the PK several times. Set up a scoring chance. Multiple times at even strength was responsible for zone exits.
Anna Shibanova: Cleared it on the penalty kill.
Ekaterina Nikolaeva: Collected the puck and moved it out of the Russia zone. Later she moved into the CT zone on a penalty kill, and also did the same at even strength. She also stole the puck from a Whale skater and brought it out. She was also noticed keeping the puck in the Whale zone during an attack and would waste time in the Connecticut end during a PK. She also disrupted an opponent’s shot and would even later steal the puck in the neutral zone.
Evgeniya Dyupina: Intercepted the puck in the offensive end leading to a possible opportunity. She also cleared the puck on a penalty kill, stole the puck at even strength and had a break in on the Whale net.
Anna Shokhina: Cleared it on the penalty kill often. Skated in to set up a scoring chance. Also set up a move into the offensive zone on the penalty kill and had a shot on the PK.