Wednesday, October 18 for NWHL.Zone
In the second matchup, returning Whale defender Shannon Doyle was focused on eliminating odd rushes, “I’d like to just really work on the gaps in the neutral zone,” the Ontario-native said on Sunday.
“(Russia) did a really nice job of doing the far stretch pass to their winger. So I think next game it would be really nice to jump on that before they have a chance to break out.” Connecticut did a better job of closing the gaps, but Russia struck first, capitalizing on a boarding penalty charged to Kelly Babstock.
Five minutes later, Connecticut defender Cydney Roesler beat Russian goalie Valeriya Tarkanova for the first Whale goal of the night. The tie wouldn’t last, as Fanuza Kadirova beat Rossman to give Russia a 2-1 lead heading into the second period. Although the Whale led Russia 3-1 in power play opportunities, the home team could not capitalize on the advantage in the first.
Russia forward Evgeniya Dyupina put her team ahead 3-1 at the 8:39 mark, but the Whale pulled within one goal five minutes later. Rosler scored on the fifth Connecticut power play on the night.
After the game, Roseler noted, contributing to the offense is a personal goal for the upcoming season, “I tried to do it last season, I didn’t quite accomplish it, but it’s definitely something I’m focused on now.” The Quinnipiac alumna tallied one goal and six assists for the Whale in her rookie season.
The teams played a close contest through the second period and well within the first ten minutes of the third. At the 12:47 mark in the final frame, Lidiya Malyavko would put Russia up for good.
She beat second Whale goalie of the night, Keira Goin for the fourth Russia goal. The fifth and final goal of the night was an empty netter in the 18th minute by Alevtina Shtareva, her second on the night.
Overall new Whale head coach Ryan Equale was impressed by his squad, “Tonight’s performance, quite honestly exceeded my expectations as far as the baseline we set on Sunday,” noted Equale postgame.
Valeriya Tarkanova picked up the win for Team Russia, stopping 25 of 27 shots for a .926 save percentage over 60 minutes. Whale starter Sydney Rossman controlled 9 of 12 shot (.750 SV%), while rookie Goin stopped 9 of 10 (.900 SV%).
Team Russia travels to Boston for a two game series with the Boston Pride, before returning to New Jersey for the final game of the 2017 NWHL Summit Series.
Connecticut will not have any more preseason tune ups before the home opener against the Buffalo Beauts on October 28th. Equale believes the time together in practice is just what his Whale team needs leading into the battle with Buffalo in two weeks-time.
“We need time together and we need time to gain more confidence and understanding of where we need to be and when we need to be there.”
Roesler agreed, “we haven’t had a lot of practices, but once we get going i know that – everyone works so hard – so the systems stuff should come pretty quickly.”
For now, as one of the veterans on a rather young Whale team, the defender is eager to continue to build chemistry. Something, she is surprised to see already playing out, “We all met (about) two weeks ago, not even,” calculated Roesler.
“To have that chemistry already building is huge and I think we’re making great steps forward with that.”
The Connecticut Whale return to action on Sunday, October 28th at 2:30 at Terry Conners Arena. Tickets can be purchased at nwhl.zone/tickets. You can also watch the action live at NWHL.zone/live on Cross-Ice Pass.