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A Look at RWHL Defenders and Goaltenders Against NWHL Competition

How defenders and goalies from the RWHL performed with Team Russia against the Boston Pride, the New York Riveters, and the Connecticut Whale.

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.

Connor Murphy

So how did some of the RWHL's best defenders and goaltenders stack up against the Boston Pride, the New York Riveters, and the Connecticut Whale?

Defenders

Angelina Goncharenko, Tornado

Goncharenko led all Tornado defenders in scoring last season with 20 points in 22 games. She is very aggressive in her own zone and very active with her stick. Goncharenko's fearlessly dives in front of shots and crashes into the boards while chasing loose pucks. The 22-year-old started the new RWHL season with one goal, two assists, and a +13 plus/minus in Tornado's first six games.

Mike Murphy

Against the NWHL

Goncharenko scored a power play goal against the Connecticut Whale on the 29th late in the second period. The goal would prove to be the game winner and even the series against the Whale. Goncharenko was regularly used on the penalty kill against the NWHL's most dangerous forwards. She had blocked four shots and picked up two minor penalties in her five games in the United States.

Anna Shibanova, Agidel Ufa

Shibanova has a big shot and plays a very physical hockey. She put up 20 points in 24 games and led all RWHL defenders in goals with 14. She is the cannon on the blue line for Agidel's power play. Shibanova was third in the RWHL in penalty minutes last season.

Shibanova is the 22-year-old captain captain of Agidel Ufa. She had three assists and seven shots in her first six games of the 2016-17 RWHL season. In her first two games back after playing with Team Russia she picked up two more assists and eight more shots. Shibanova is a +1 through the first eight games of the season.

Against the NWHL

Shibanova certainly made her mark in her visit to the United States. She picked up four minor penalties in five games. Shibanova also had two assists, one of which was against the Boston Pride on Team Russia's first goal against NWHL competition.

Nina Pirogova, Tornado

Pirogova played both forward and defense last season for Tornado, but made Team Russia as a blueliner. She scored 18 points in 24 games and finished the season with a +32 plus/minus rating. She is off to a hot start with seven points in her first six games of the 2016-17 season, five of which are assists.

Mike Murphy

Against the NWHL

Pirgova is turning 18-years-old on October 25th, so expectations weren't very high for her playing against some of the best women in North American hockey. But Pirogova looked fantastic in the four games she skated in. She had two assists (one of which came on the power play), took just one minor penalty, and had four blocked shots for Russia.

Goaltenders

Nadezhda Moroszova, Biryusa Krasnoyarsk

The impressive Moroszova started this RWHL season with a 1-2 record and a .943 save percentage for Biryusa. Last season she backstopped her club with an .899 save percentage and a 2.30 goals against average. If she gets some more goal support Morszova could help Biryusa climb the RWHL standings this season.

Against the NWHL

Moroszova, who is just 19-years-old, was Russia's best and youngest goaltender in their five games in America. She was in net for both of their wins. Moroszova posted an amazing .951 save percentage in her two starts.

The teenager had a stunning 34 save performance, allowing just one power play goal to Amanda Kessel, in Russia's 4-1 victory over the Riveters. Three days later she stopped 24 shots in Russia's 3-2 victory over the Connecticut Whale, out-dueling the duo of Shenae Lundberg and Nicole Stack.

Maria Sorokina, Dynamo St. Petersburg

The 21-year-old Sorokina was the smallest goalie Team Russia brought with them to the United States, but she was named to the roster for a very good reason. Last season Sorokina posted a solid .905 save percentage and had a record of 10-4 with Dynamo St. Petersburg.

Connor Murphy

Sorokina has started this season on the right foot with a record of 5-1. She had an .950 save percentage and a 0.78 goals against average before joining Team Russia to play the NWHL on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Sorokina has earned three more wins for St. Petersburg since returning to Russia.

Against the NWHL

Sorokina shined for Russia against the Riveters in a losing effort in Newark. She had 26 saves and a .929 save percentage and stopped a couple of breakaways to keep her team in the game. One of the two goals she allowed came from the stick of Amanda Kessel on a Riveters power play. Two days later Sorokina allowed three goals on 18 shots in a tough loss to the Connecticut Whale. She might want to forget about September 27th.