Written by Maura Sun
It didn’t take long for the Rays to move passed their upsetting Clarkson Cup loss to the Markham Thunder last season. After a team rebrand and a series of moves in the offseason, the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays turned the page on 2017-2018 and focused their attention on the season opener in Toronto against the Toronto Furies.
The Rays picked up 4 points over the weekend having beat the Furies 5-1 in the season opener and shut them out in game two on Sunday. With a solid opening preformance, the Rays have shown they’ve maintained the momentum from their phenomenal first season and are prepared to work to return to the Clarkson Cup.
Season Opener: Rookies Look to Make an Impact
Looking to make contributions as rookie forwards this season, Hannah Miller and Leah Lum are not afraid to work hard.
Hannah Miller made her season debut a memorable one by scoring her first goal in the CWHL during the first period.
“It’s a little bit quicker,” when asked the biggest difference between professional sports and collegiate sports, Hannah said. “The biggest thing is everybody’s mind, and competitiveness, you know. Some of these players have played the game for a long time. There is a lot of depth in all of the teams this year. Especially after the Olympic year, we now have Olympic athletes back in our league. It’s going to be a fun season and it’s a great league to be a part of.”
Leah Lum scored twice in the third period. The fourth-generation Chinese heritage player has proven to be a new dominant force in the team.
“It’s surreal. Carps, Woods and Racheal made great plays in both my goals. I just put the puck back in the net,” said Leah. “We built up our chemistry in our five exhibition games in the preseason so we’re pretty comfortable with each other. Here, finally, in our first game, it looks pretty good out there. I am excited about this season.”
Second Game: Woods, Carp, Raty help Vanke Rays shut out Furies
With the success of Saturday, Coach Deraney decided against changing the lineup for the second game, but fatigue was still a concern. Playing two games in 24 hours is a huge challenge especially for a visiting team, but the Rays showed no signs of slowing down.
Woods opened the scoring with a goal in the last minute of the first period followed by a goal by Alex Carpenter in the second giving the Rays a 2-0 lead. The Rays would end up winning 3-0 when Carpenter would score on an empty net with 4 seconds left in the last period. Four-time Olympian, Noora Raty made 26 saves on Sunday for her first shutout this season. She had 7 shutouts last season (6 in the regular season, 1 in the playoff).
With another outstanding performance by Raty, the Rays have realized they can’t win a Clarkson cup relying only on their goalie. Last season, this became a major problem for the Rays.
“That was a problem at the beginning because they know Noora is back there, no big deal,” said Coach Deraney. “But we got over that. I am really excited that our players are playing just as hard in front of her as it would be in front of Kim or Yuqing. It doesn’t matter who we are playing. We are going to play our game. We are going to play to our identity. We are going to play the full 200 feet.”
Last season, both the Kunlun Red Star and Vanke Rays struggled on defense. This year, the rebranded Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays worked hard to build a strong and experienced defense. “The defense today is a combination of our forwards being really responsible coming back and defense being able to stay up,” said Coach Deraney.
The Shenzen KRS Vanke Rays are looking forward to playing the Calgary Inferno this weekend.