Cougars take on Russians
Womens lose to squad in exhibition match-up
In a country with only 530 women hockey players, the Russian national team stands tall.
Currently sitting fifth in the world — behind only Canada, United States, Sweden and Finland — the Russians squad came to Alberta for a series of exhibition contents, taking on the Mount Royal Cougars on Nov. 29.
And it wasn’t close.
By the end of the first period, the Russians were up 3-0.
It wasn’t until the second period until Taralynn Suzuki found the back of the net for the Cougars.
Unfortunately, the Russians than launched off three more goals in the second to take a 6-1 lead.
The final period was scoreless, giving the Russians the win.
“It’s a pretty cool experience,” said Scott Rivett, women’s head coach. “For all of our players, no one has ever had an opportunity to play a national team
The Cougars faced the fifth-ranked team in the world, behind only Canada, United States, Finland and Sweden, who came over to Canada for a series of exhibition games.
Competing in the World Championships since 1997, the Russians best finish is a bronze medal back in 2001. They finished fourth in the last World Championships.
The squad added to two fifth- and a sixth place finish during the last three Olympics.
In a country with 530 women hockey players, these 23 are the best.
“They are going to be a really good team and they are going to be a nice challenge for us,” said Jesslyn Legasse, the fifth-year defenseman for the Cougars.
“They are going to be strong and physical but I think we are going to be able to compete.”
Rivett added: “They have some kids with some very high-end skill. A few of their players are very dynamic so without question, it will be a good game to watch.”
The Cougars have previously played national teams such as Team Japan and Team Australia, but never one with as much talent and world status as the Russians.
“I think we will be okay,” Rivett said. “If we stick to our gameplan and play the game we are capable of, we should be ok.
“We are going to roll our lines and give players the opportunity to play because it is really that unique of the experience.”
It was a tough week of games for the top-ranked Cougars who played five games in seven nights, starting off with a split against NAIT, and then finishing off the first semester against Red Deer College on the Dec. 1st weekend.
“It’s going to be tough but we are just going to have to keep hydrated, get good cool downs, warm-ups to get ready for the next game as they come,” Legasse said.
The Russians came through a series of exhibition games, including a pair of matchups against the University of Calgary Dinos.
During their first game against the Dinos, the Russians came in on the wrong end of a 5-3 decision.