Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Russian national team prevails over Bemidji State Beavers as part of NCAA exhibition tour

In preparation for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the host country is participating in several exhibition games. Having captured the bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships, the Russians are hoping to build on their momentum. Travelling throughout the American Midwest, one such game included a November 27 affair with the Bemidji State Beavers in Minnesota.

Only 46 seconds in the first period, Kristine Grenier would score an even-strength goal to provide the Beavers with the lead. Assisted by Tess Dusik, it would prove to be the only goal of the period. Both teams played a stout defensive game as goaltenders Jessica Havel of Bemidji State and Julia Leskina of Russia were solid between the pipes.

Despite two power play opportunities for the Beavers in the second stanza, it was Russia that would put the biscuit in the basket. Alexandra Vafina scored at the 5:18 mark, evening the score at 1 apiece. The 15:01 mark found Russia enjoying the first lead of the game as Oxana Afonina buried the puck past Havel.

Russia opened the third period shorthanded as Elena Dergacheva was called for boarding with 19 seconds remaining in the second. Despite Bemidji State’s player advantage, Olga Sosina would log a short-handed tally at the 1:34 mark to extend the Russian lead to a 3-1 margin.

Less than four minutes later, the Beavers replied with a goal of their own. With Olga Semenets serving an interference penalty, Tess Dusik capitalized with a power play tally, trimming Russia’s lead to one goal. Semenets would redeem herself one minute and 41 seconds after Dusik’s marker. Assisting on Sosina’s second goal of the game, Russia held the 4-2 advantage.

Shorlty after the goal, Sosina would find herself in penalty trouble. Called for tripping at the 7:40 mark, the Beavers would capitalize. Ivana Bilic would score 63 minutes into the power play to reduce the deficit back to one goal.

Penalty problems would also plague the Russian team at an inopportune moment. Kaitlyn Tougas would even the score with 96 seconds remaining in the contest. At the same time, Inna Dubanok was called for hooking, providing the Beavers with a power play opportunity for the remainder of the third period. Although Russia forced overtime with effective penalty killing, it was a mistake that may have proven costly against another opponent.
Despite the three penalities in the third, Russia bounced back in overtime with Alexandra Vafina setting up Ludmila Belyakova for the game-winning tally. After the overtime, both teams participated in a shootout for fun. Of the ten skaters that participated, only Whitney Wivoda of Bemidji State managed to score.

While Bemidji State played a disciplined game with only four penalty minutes and an effective 2-for-6 on the power play, Russia took advantage at the right time. Of note, Tess Dusik led all Beavers skaters with three points while Olga Sosina and Alexandra Vafina were Russia’s leading scorers with a pair of two-point efforts.Moving forward, the Russians must learn from their third period collapse. With aspirations for a medal at Sochi, the team must play a solid sixty minutes.

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