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A Look at RWHL Forwards Against NWHL Competition

How Olga Sosina, Luda Belyakova, Katia Smolentseva, and other forwards from the RWHL played while representing Team Russia against the NWHL.

Mike Murphy

The Russian Women's National Team recently played five games against three of the NWHL's teams. Team Russia's roster featured some of the best players from Russian's Women's Hockey League (or the RWHL).

The RWHL is one of the premier women's hockey leagues outside of the North American continent. It features talent from at least seven different European nations and players as young as 15-years-old (including defender Maria Pechnikova who played with Team Russia). The RWHL has seven club teams and for the past few years HK Tornado has been the flagship franchise of the league.

The RWHL's schedule accommodated the national team's visit to the United States to play against NWHL teams with a brief hiatus. Team Russia's games against the NWHL provided women's hockey fans with a closer look at some of the best Russian talent in hockey. It also gave us an idea of how some of the best players in the RWHL looked playing against NWHL competition.

The stats for all of Team Russia's skaters and goaltenders against the NWHL can be seen here.

So after getting their feet under them in six RWHL games how did Russia's best forwards stack up against the Boston Pride, the New York Riveters, and the Connecticut Whale?

Olga Sosina, Agidel Ufa

Sosina is the RWHL's brightest star and the almost certainly the best female Russian hockey player in the world. She was the leading scorer in the RWHL last season with an amazing 56 points in 22 games. Sosina scored 27 goals last season for Agidel. There was just no stopping her.

The 24-year-old Sosina isn't the biggest player on the ice, but she won't back down from a shoving match against anyone. She plays fast, hard hockey and is always dangerous with the puck on her stick. Sosina had two goals and five assists before the RWHL's break.

Against the NWHL

Sosina was the engine for Russia's offense, picking up four assists in five games. Three of those assists were primary and two of them came on the power play. Sosina put 12 shots on net and had an eye-catching eight minor penalties against NWHL competition.

Elena Dergachyova, Tornado

Dergachyova had 46 points last season which was good for second on Tornado and third in the RWHL. The diminutive center is one of Russian hockey's brightest stars. In her first six games this season she has six goals and seven assists for Tornado centering their top line.

Mike Murphy

Against the NWHL

Dergachyova was surprisingly held scoreless by NWHL competition in five appearances, but was still a key player for Russia. Dergachyova put 15 shots on net, took four minor penalties, blocked four shots, and took more faceoffs than any other Russian forward.

Yekaterina Smolentseva, Agidel Ufa

This offseason Smolentseva returned to the RWHL and signed with Agidel Ufa after playing in the NWHL's inaugural season with the Connecticut Whale. Agidel was thrilled to add the savvy veteran to their lineup. Smolentseva will help take some of the burden to produce away from Sosina.

In Smolentseva's first six games this season the 35-year-old star forward scored two goals and picked up seven assists. Not a bad start. In her first two games after the RWHL break she added three more goals and three more assists. That's 15 points in eight games for Smolentseva.

Connor Murphy

Against the NWHL

Smolentseva picked up a goal and primary assist in her second game against the Whale on September 29th. She picked up another goal, a gorgeous roofed shot that ricocheted off the crossbar, against the Riveters on the 25th. Katia was one of just four Russian skaters to have three or more points in America.

Anna Shokhina, Tornado

Shokhina scorched opposing defenses with 51 points in 24 games playing on the wing for Tornado last season. She was 18-years-old when she finished second in scoring at the close of last season. Shokhina plays a balanced game and has great vision as evidenced by her 31 assists in 2015-16.

Shokhina is off to a roaring start in the 2016-17 RWHL season. She has six goals and eight assists in six games. Shokhina is Tornado's captain, she turned 19-years-old in June.

Against the NWHL

Surprisingly Shokhina picked up just a single assist (primary) against the NWHL teams. The assist came on fellow Belyakova's first goal against the Riveters. Shokhina put six shots on net in her five games in America.

Fanuza Kadirova, Arktik Universitet

The 5'2" Kadirova finished her first RWHL season with 37 points in 24 games which was good for the team lead on Arktik Universitet. She finished sixth in the league in scoring as a 17-year-old last season. She was 17. No big deal.

Kadirova was the captain of Russia's U-18 team in the 2016 Women's World Championship. She scored five goals and two assists in six games and helped lead Russia to bronze in the tournament.

Mike Murphy

Kadriova started the 2016-17 campaign with two goals, two assists, and 29 shots in her first six games. Artkik will be depending on Hungarian forward Alexandra Huszak, Karina Verkhovtseva, and Kadirova will have to carry the offense for a second straight season.

Against the NWHL

Kadirova, who turned 18 in June, scored a goal and an assist in five games against the Beauts, Riveters, and Pride. Her goal came unassisted and was scored with just two seconds left in Russia's 4-1 victory over the Riveters on the 26th. She is likely the youngest player to score a goal in an NWHL game.

Lyudmila Belyakova, Tornado

After spending a year in the NWHL with the New York Riveters Belyakova returned to the RWHL and her former club. She scored 41 points (including 26 goals) in 24 games with Tornado in the 2014-15 season. It's safe to say that Tornado was happy to have her back.

"There were a few options among Russian clubs," Belyakova shared in a recent interview. "Playing for Tornado was the most attractive option for me in terms of their game and location. Today I'm a Tornado player and I will try to benefit my club."

This season Belyakova has been skating on Tornado's second line, but that hasn't slowed her production down. She had four goals, 42 shots, and three assists in her first six games back with Tornado. That's an average of seven shots per game.

Against the NWHL

Belyakova made a statement in her one appearance against the Riveters and in her two games against the Whale. Her five goals in three games (one of which was an empty netter) gave her the point lead on Team Russia. Belyakova registered 12 shots, took three minor penalties, and was one of just two Russian players to finish with a +2 plus/minus rating.