The National Women’s Hockey League announced on Thursday, in conjunction with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation that Russian Women’s National Team will play will face off against the league in exhibition games.
The NWHL/Team Russia Summit Series will pit the Team Russia against the New York Riveters, Connecticut Whale and Boston Pride, in two exhibition games each, prior to the season in October. The Russian National Team will also participate in training sessions with the clubs.
The two-week visit by the Russians, will serve as a warmup for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The exhibition games will also help the Riveters, Whale and Pride prepare themselves for their pursuit of the 2018 Isobel Cup. Team Russia played five games against the NWHL teams prior to last season as well.
Olga Votolovskaya, General Manager for the Russian Women’s National Team said, “Our players and staff are very excited to come to the USA again to play hard and wonderful hockey against the high-level players of the NWHL. I want to say special thanks to NWHL Commissioner, Dani Rylan for supporting our initiative, and to the Russian Ice Hockey Federation for financing such a long and far away trip. For a team to improve, you have to go up against some of the best, and that is what the NWHL represents.”
The two-week visit will run from October 11 through October 23, with the times and venues for the games to be announced later in the summer
Rylan added, “We welcome the Russian National Team and thank them for an ongoing partnership that is beneficial for everyone involved. These games may be between friendly rivals, but they are intense, perfect preparation for our teams before the start of the NWHL season.”
In the five games in 2016, the NWHL teams won three, as Team Russia won two (a 4-1 victory over the Riveters and a 3-2 win over the Whale).
Votolovskaya added, “We enjoy the warm hospitality and kind attention from the American people that meet us at the hotels, in the hockey arenas and on the street during our trip. We will definitely bring `Red Machine’ hockey souvenirs for our American friends. I am looking forward to seeing their smiling faces again.”
She continued, “Last time we managed to win two games out of five. The games were very interesting and tough and it was noticeable that my girls were improving from game to game. We have no other North American trips planned at this time. We will concentrate our efforts on this series versus the NWHL. Our plan for October is to bring some young talented players to the battles with a hope of winning three out of six.”
The NWHL will drop the puck on the 2017-2018 season in October as well. All four teams, the Riveters, Whale, Pride and Buffalo Beauts will face off in their pursuit of the Isobel Cup with the full slate of their home games, as well as a few others in other markets to help grow the game.