By Patrick Conway – Conway’s Russian Hockey Blog

The Russian senior women’s team was also at work this past week, preparing for their second annual trip to the United States to face clubs from the National Women’s Hockey League.  The final stage of that preparation was the visit of Team Japan to the Russian hockey base at Novogorsk for a pair of exhibition games yesterday and today.  The Japanese national team came into the series riding a 26-game winning streak in all competitions, so definitely a squad not to be taken too lightly, even as Team Russia looked ahead to the North American tour.

Team Japan served notice early in the first game, too, that they were to be reckoned with, as Akane Hosoyamada of the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno gave the visitors a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.  Russian Head Coach Alexei Chistyakov’s players found the range thereafter, however; Yevgeniya Dyupina of Dynamo St. Petersburg tied the game seven minutes into the second period.  Then the big Tornado Moscow Oblast trio struck, as Yelena Dergachyova scored with assists to her club linemates Alevtina Shtaryova and Anna Shokhina, and Russia led 2-1 after two periods.  In the third, the Russians pulled away.  First it was another Tornado player, Lyudmila Belyakova, getting her name on the scoresheet, before Agidel Ufa defender Tatyana Shibanova rounded out the scoring in the final minute of what ended as a 4-1 Russian victory.  Shibanova’s Agidel team-mate, the formidable Olga Sosina, picked up assists on both the third-period goals, while Biryusa Krasnoyarsk’s Nadezhda Morozova earned the victory in goal.

Chistyakov opted to go with Valeriya Tarakanova of SKIF Nizhny Novgorod in net for today’s second meeting between the two teams, but the game’s opening act followed the same script.  Once again, Japan held a 1-0 first-intermission lead, this time thanks to Miho Shishiuchi.  And once again, Tornado’s big line came to the fore in the second period, as Shtaryova leveled matters with assists from Dergachyova and Shokhina.  This game, however, would go down to the wire.  With less than three minutes on the clock, Dyupina pounced on a mistake at the Japanese blueline, skated in alone on Nana Fujimoto, and scored what would turn out to be the game winner (see photo at the top of this post).  Tornado’s Nina Pirogova added a third into the empty net with just a few ticks left, and Russia came away with their second victory in two days, by a score of 3-1.

Team Russia sets off for the U.S. on Wednesday, and will open their series on Friday against the New York Riveters.  The full schedule is as follows:

  • Friday, October 13th: New York Riveters
  • Sunday, October 15th: Connecticut Whale
  • Tuesday, October 17th: Connecticut Whale
  • Wednesday, October 18th: Boston Pride
  • Saturday, October 21st: Boston Pride
  • Sunday, October 22nd: New York Riveters