Women’s Hockey Update: Oct. 18th, 2016
This week’s update is mostly about the Women’s Hockey League, which saw all but one of its teams in action over the last few days. The defending champions of that circuit are starting to close the gap on top once again… read on!
October is a busy month for the Women’s Hockey League this season, and this past Sunday saw the start of three three-game sets. The first of these involved the standings’ bottom two teams, as Arktik-Universitet Ukhta played host to SK Sverdlovsk Oblast. Not much surprise in the results, as Arktik-Universitet have won the first two games handily. The first saw the Ukhta side get two goals from Karina Verkhovtseva and four assists from Alexandra Husak en route to an 8-2 triumph; Sofia Senchukova scored both of SKSO’s goals. In the second match, however, the visitors came out flying, and took a first period lead thanks to Yuliya Vasyukova. Once Arktik-Universitet had leveled the score six minutes into the second period however, matters reverted to form. Tatyana Shibanova and Alsu Rakhimova each potted a pair as the Ukhtans rolled to a 7-1 victory. Game three of the set goes on Wednesday.
Also getting started on Sunday was a trio of games between defending champions Tornado Moscow Oblast and the potentially tricky Biryusa Krasnoyarsk. So far in that one, Tornado have avoided any pitfalls. Game 1 started badly for them, as Biryusa took a 2-1 lead into the first break, but Tornado fought back to take a 5-2 lead in the second, and that in fact stood up as the final score. Forward Anna Shokhina, currently the league’s leading scorer, had a goal and an assist, and she went one helper better in the second meeting — a goal and two assists paced Tornado to a 4-1 victory. Game 3 will be played on Wednesday.
And finally, SKIF Nizhny Novgorod and Dynamo St. Petersburg got in on the fun on Sunday, beginning a trio of games at the former’s home. This too is a series with some intrigue, as Dynamo came in as the league leaders, albeit having played more games than Tornado. And SKIF, while in something of a rebuilding mode, have just changed coaches, and managed to take a game off of Agidel Ufa last week. All three games were thrillers, decided by a single goal, and the first saw Dynamo eke out a 2-1 victory thanks to Mariya Shepelinskaya’s second-period winner. SKIF, however, took a point off Dynamo in the second meeting between the two, and nearly took more than that. The St. Petersburg side needed Alena Polenska’s goal in the last two minutes to get things to extra time at 2-2, and then went on to triumph in the dread shootout. The third game of the set, held today, also ended 3-2 in Dynamo’s favour, although this time they got the job done in 60 minutes; Shepelinskaya’s two goals were key for the winning team.
We should note here the play of SKIF’s rookie forward Polina Bolgareva; the 17-year-old has scored two of her team’s five goals against Dynamo, and has assisted on one other. That gives her a very nice season line of 12 gp, 7-4-11.
So what does the recent action all mean? Well, Dynamo St. Petersburg maintain their first-place standing with 33 points from 15 games, but they are only four points of ahead of Tornado Moscow Oblast, and four is also the number of games Tornado have in hand. The battle for third is between Agidel Ufa (18 points in nine games) and Biryusa Krasnoyarsk (12 points in eight). In terms of the scoring race, I mentioned above that it is Tornado’s Anna Shokhina who is currently tops in points with 22; she is actually tied with her linemate Yelena Dergachyova in that category, but Shokhina gets the nod for the moment due to her league-leading 11 goals.
None of Russia’s national women’s teams were in action this week, but there was some interesting news on that front nonetheless. Olga Votolovskaya, Russia’s newly-elected representative on the Women’s Committee of the IIHF, revealed in an interview this week that the world hockey body will inaugurate a girls’ Under-16 European Championship tournament, with the first edition to be held next year in Hungary. She also said that the Russian Hockey Federation has been invited to send a team, and has signed a letter of intent to do so.
Votolovskaya had a number of other interesting things to say about women’s hockey in Europe and Russia, and I encourage to give a look to the interview linked above (it’s Google-translated from Russian).
Finally, we continue to get updates on the schedule for the new season of the amateur League of Women’s Hockey. We knew that Group Б will begin its season on November 19th (I refer you to last week’s post for details on the teams in each of the four groups), and it has now been revealed that Group A will start their campaign at the home rink of Grad-1 Moscow on November 12th. Group B will start in Novosibirsk, but I do not yet know the exact date. More details as I get them!
And that’s about all for this week! We will update you next Tuesday on the upcoming action in the Women’s Hockey League (the next set of games begins on the 22nd), plus anything else that might come up in the meantime. Thank you for reading!