ZhHL: Lyudmila Belyakova returns from maternity leave

The star forward scored a goal less than three minutes into her first game back on the ice

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, star Russian forward Lyudmila Belyakova made her return to professional hockey and HK Tornado.

Belyakova missed the entire 2018-19 ZhHL season on maternity leave. Prior to Wednesday’s tilt against SKIF, her last game on the ice was played on March 21, 2018. Her return is big news for both Tornado and the Russian national team — both clubs have missed her scoring touch.

In 17 GP in the 2017-18 season, Belyakova, 25, scored 10 goals in 17 games. In 2016-17, she scored 34 goals in 35 games as part of Tornado’s big top line which featured Anna Shokhina and Yelena Dergachyova — who is currently off the ice on maternity leave. She also scored a goal and picked up two assists for O.A.R. (the Olympic Athletes of Russia) in six games at the 2018 Games.

Belyakova scored a goal, notched an assist, and put six shots on net in first game back in the ZhHL. It’s worth noting she collected the puck after first goal, which was scored just 2:28 into her first game back on the ice. Belyakova was kept off the scoreboard in her second game back, but peppered the net with nine shots and was on the ice for the game-winning goal.

Tornado and Belyakova return to action on Nov. 17 against Biryusa. They currently sit third in the league standings, behind both Agidel Ufa and the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays. Belyakova’s return should bolster Tornado’s offense, which thus far has failed to measure up to Agidel and Vanke.