Beauts fall to Team Russia in four-game series

Babstock piled up the points, but Russia bested Buffalo three times

The Buffalo Beauts won just one of their four games in their exhibition series against Team Russia. The series took place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 and was played at three different rinks in Ontario, Canada. The final game of the series was played at Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre in St. Catharines.

Russia brought a 21-player roster to Canada, including 12 players who participated in the 2018 Olympics as members of Team OAR.

Goalkeepers: Nadezhda Morozova, Anna Prugova

Defenders: Maria Batalova, Anna Shibanova, Ekaterina Nikolayeva, Anastasia Chistyakova, Nina Pirogova, Liana Ganeyeva

Forwards: Olga Sosina, Elena Dergachyova, Galina Skiba, Alyona Starovoytova, Anna Shokhina, Alevtina Starova, Alexander Vafina, Victoria Kulishova, Evgenia Dupina, Ekaterina Smolina, Anna Timofeeva, Fanuza Kadirova.

Game 1 | Thursday, Nov. 29 | Russia wins 4-3

Buffalo scored two goals just 22 seconds apart halfway through the first and took a 2-0 lead into intermission. Russia answered with three straight goals against Nicole Hensley in the second period. Both teams added another goal in the third, giving Russia a 4-3 win. According to the ZhHL’s news post on the game, the Beauts had 13 skaters in the game. Buffalo also earned 21 penalty minutes in the game, a series high for both teams.

Maria Batalova had a goal and two assists to lead the way for Russia. Kelly Babstock had a goal and a secondary assist for the Beauts. It’s worth noting that Babstock is still searching for her first goal of the 2018-19 NWHL season.

Game 2 | Saturday, Dec. 1 | Beauts win 7-1

The Beauts answered back in a big way in their second meeting with the Russian national team. Shannon Szabados stopped 24 of the 25 shots she faced in a 7-1 rout. After an early second period goal from Anna Shokhina, the Beauts scored six straight goals from the sticks of six different skaters — Julianna Iafallo, Sarah Casorso, Hayley Scamurra, Jordyn Burns, Corrine Buie, and Jordan Juron.

Burns, who has yet to play in a regular-season game this year, led the way for Buffalo with a goal and two assists in the game. Babstock and Maddie Elia both had two primary assists and Savannah Harmon picked up two assists of her own — one primary and one secondary.

Game 3 | Sunday, Dec. 2 | Russia wins 4-1

Russia responded to their blowout loss on Saturday with a 4-1 victory thanks in large part to a 25-save performance from goaltender Nadezhda Morozova. Nicole Hensley was in net for the Beauts. She faced 24 shots in her second loss of the series.

Russian defender Anna Shibanova had two primary points in the third period, including the sole assist on Kadirova’s second goal of the series. Harmon was the lone goal scorer for the Beauts. Her goal, assisted by Babstock and Iafallo, was scored with under 30 seconds left in the second period.

Game 4 | Monday, Dec. 3 | Russia wins 4-2

On Tuesday, the Beauts had a chance to leave Canada with a 2-2 series tie, but they were unable to hold back Russia’s dynamic offense led by HK Tornado star Anna Shokhina.

Kelly Babstock scored Buffalo’s first goal of the game, which made her the only player to pick up a point in each game of the series. Shokhina put on a show with a one-goal, two-assist performance for Russia. HK Tornado’s Alevtina Shtaryova scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of the second period. Buie brought the Beauts to within one with her third goal of the series scored with just four second left in the second stanza, but Shokhina’s goal in the final minute of the third made it 4-2 for Russia.