The Shenzhen Vanke Rays won the Russian Women’s League Championship, sweeping two-time defending champions Agidel Ufa. The first hockey championship to be won by a Chinese team, the Rays were powered by a combination of international, Chinese heritage, and Chinese players.
Centre Alex Carpenter, defender Megan Bozak, and goalie Noora Räty are three of the best in the world and together the trio of decorated Olympians were massively important in the team’s success. Carpenter led the WHL in scoring with 21 goals and 53 points in 27 games.
Right after Carpenter, however, was her linemate, winger Rachel Llanes, who broke out for the Rays with 21 goals and 42 points while playing in her 150th professional game at the end of the season. Other Chinese-Americans and Chinese-Candians who played prominent roles include winger Leah Lum, top-pairing defender Jessica Wong, and goalie Kim Newell. The team’s starter for most of the season, Newell had a 0.945 save percentage and 1.52 GAA in 17 games.
The Rays also have a number of Chinese-born and Chinese-trained players, including their second defensive pairing, Liu Zhixin and captain Qi Xueting, Liu’s 5 goals and 14 points were the second-highest among defenders on the team. 21-year-old goalie He Siye also impressed in limited playing time, posting a 0.961 save percentage.