Ice Diaries: Michelle Karvinen
Danish-Finnish forward Michelle Karvinen had a unique, albeit brief introduction to Russia’s WHL. She was called to pinch-hit for the KRS Shenzhen Vanke Rays in the postponed championship final, after COVID-19 delayed the postseason and precluded several team members from returning to the squad. While she did not play the regular season with KRS, she had an opportunity to experience their passion and the league’s hottest rivalry first-hand—not to mention a reunion with her college coach, Brian Idalski, in the process.
Ice Diaries: Kimberly Newell
As a child, Kimberly Newell could never have aspired to a professional hockey gig in China. It was an option that did not exist until after she had retired post-graduation from Princeton University, one that the KRS Vanke Rays netminder joked she thought was a “scam” when it was first proposed in 2018. But this twist of fate allowed Newell to fulfill another dream simultaneously, a goal that she had set while studying Chinese in college. After the 2018-19 season, she had the opportunity to travel to her family’s home in Hangzhou, where she had one final conversation with her grandfather.
Ice Diaries: Sasha Vafina
You could hardly say that “everyone and their mother” is an Olympian—but in the Vafina household, this is exactly the case. When Dynamo-Neva forward Alexandra (Sasha) Vafina represented Russia at the 2010 Vancouver Games, she bore the literal and figurative torch from her mother Lyubov, who represented Kazakhstan in their first Olympic appearance in 2002. The mother-daughter pair even played together in Chelyabinsk for a time, an opportunity whose singularity only became clear later.
Warming up for the Women’s Hockey League playoffs
It’s playoff time in the Women’s Hockey League this week, with the semi-final action starting on Wednesday. We have two best-of-three series on the way, starting in Krasnoyarsk, where Biryusa faces defending champion KRS Vanke Rays, and moving on to Nizhny Novgorod where a fast-improving SKIF takes on Agidel.
International action and playoff battles – Women’s Hockey League round-up
The KHL isn’t alone in preparing for the final weeks of the regular season. In the Russian Women’s Hockey League, the battle for playoff places and championships is heating up. Meanwhile, Team Russia took on the best in the league as part of its preparations for April’s World Championship in Canada.
Ice Diaries: Megan Bozek
The KRS Shenzhen Vanke Rays were first named for the rays of light they cast on Chinese women’s hockey. Despite their on-ice luminosity—crowned WHL champions in March after a masterful league debut—there is one small irony. The team has barely seen sunlight since winter began in their temporary home of Stupino, Russia.
Ice Diaries: Rachel Llanes
Rachel Llanes took her first strides on-ice at a middle school birthday. Twelve years old and already years behind her counterparts, the California native was among the least likely to advance in professional hockey. “I think the best part about it was that I never expected to go so high,” the KRS Vanke Rays star described on the eve of her departure for Russia. “I was only doing it because I really loved it.” Llanes was the first player in history to win the Isobel Cup, Clarkson Cup and WHL Championship—an impressive trophy case for a career that began at a party.
Ice Diaries: Alex Carpenter
My first meeting with U.S. Olympian Alex Carpenter took place one degree south of the Tropic of Cancer, nearly one year ago to the day. The clawing humidity of September in southern China was hardly the autumn I knew. Carpenter grew up in Massachusetts, where dropping temperatures and black ice would have been unmistakable heralds of hockey season. In Shenzhen, flowering vines and lush Southern Hemisphere sunsets categorize the brief and mild winter, if you can even call it that. China’s sprawling tech hub is perhaps among the most unlikely destinations for a women’s hockey capital, and yet, they boast one of the most decorated and visible captains in Alex Carpenter.
Ice Diaries: Anna Prugova
Anna Prugova was the youngest hockey competitor at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, debuting between the pipes for Team Russia at sixteen years and eighty-six days old. The Khabarovsk native’s career had begun only a handful of years prior, when her father stood the young goalie in front of a glass window and began to shoot pucks in the family’s backyard.
Ice Diaries: Alena Mills
Sporting an unmistakable mullet wig and a few dipsy-doodles, Alena Mills’ impression of fellow countryman Jaromir Jagr was one of the most memorable moments of the 2020 WHL All Star Weekend. While the joke elicited a response from the The Ageless Wonder himself, I recently discovered something interesting: this was hardly the first time Alena Mills had impersonated Jagr.
Ice Diaries: Brian Idalski
There are head coaching debuts, and then there are baptisms by fire. I think it is fairly obvious which category Brian Idalski’s inaugural WHL season would fall into, one that featured both a global pandemic that rendered his team homeless, and a fairy-tale ending—the championship title.
Ice Diaries: KRS strikes twice, aims for WHL Finals sweep
The KRS Shenzhen Vanke Rays have not played in their home arena since January of this year, but they appear to feel quite at home 5,944 kilometers away – ironically in enemy territory, the Bashkortostan capital of Ufa. Despite dropping three of four regular season matchups against reigning champions Agidel, they lead the WHL Finals 2-0 – one win away from their first-ever title.