While the PWHPA continues to stand by their intentions and objectives, not all players sitting the season out are in the same boat collectively in thought. That being said, it came to light on Wednesday morning that American defensemen Megan Bozek had signed with the KRS Vanke Rays in Russia.
The news comes three days after Team USA was hosted in Pittsburgh where they took on Marie-Philip Poulin and the Canadian National Team in a two-game series with a week full of of practices.
While Noora Räty sits on the board of directors alongside Liz Knox and seven other players, Räty, who spent last season in China, returned to the Vanke Rays on Wednesday in China. Back on the fifth on June, there was some speculation the team would transfer after the CWHL ceased operations due to an “economically unsustainable” business model.
Fast forward to July 25th, the move was confirmed to the ZhHL. Joining Räty headed back to Shenzhen was Canadian defensemen Jessica Wong, who like the Finnish backstop, spent the previous season playing for Kunlun Red Star of the CWHL. Wong, who is a native of Sydney, Nova Scotia, previously played for the Calgary Inferno where she spent three seasons before joining the Vanke Rays.
Additionally, the 28-year-old played for Canada’s under-18 team where she was part of the club that was awarded the silver medal at the U18 World Junior Championships. With that in mind as a few key players are re-added to the roster, they reunite with Alex Carpenter, an American centreman and USA Hockey member.
Returning the focus to Megan Bozek, a former member of the CWHL, she previously played with the Markham Thunder where she spent two seasons after two in Buffalo. However, her time with the Thunder in Markham was not the only stint she had playing in Canada as the 28-year-old native of Buffalo Grove, Illinois also spent one season playing with the Toronto Furies.
In taking a look at Bozek’s numbers from the 2018-2019 season, the four-time world champion and two-time National champion recorded eight points in 26 played in Markham. This included one goal scored and seven assists made alongside 12 penalty minutes.
As for the accomplishments Megan Bozek has seen and made thus far, the one-time Olympian has won a Clarkson Cup championship with the CWHL’s Markham Thunder. As well, she has won the Isobel Cup with the Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL. As for the two National Championships, those both occurred before turning professional, winning the division title with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
In looking further at her career achievements, Bozek’s four gold medals all came as a result of her participation with Team USA in the IIHF Women’s World Championships. Since finding herself being one of nearly 200 women without a league to call home, Bozek agreed to join the PWHPA and has taken part in the Dream Gap exhibition Tour. With that being said, she competed in the Unifor showcase when it kicked off at Westwood Arena in Toronto.
While Bozek is a star herself, representing USA Hockey with the best alongside her, she joins the Red Star who’s roster is filled with 10 other North American-born players to share the ice with. According to Mike Murphy of The Ice Garden, the list includes Alex Carpenter, another USA Hockey star, Rachel Llanes, Kimberly Newell, Amy Menke, Hannah Miller and Rebekah Kolstad.
Bozek drew into the lineup for the very first time with the Vanke Rays on Wednesday and she wasn’t alone on the first-year side, being joined by Taylor Flaherty (University of Vermont), Kaitlin Tse (Harvard), Emily Costales (University of British Columbia), Claudia Kepler (HV71, University of Wisconsin), Kolstad (Minnesota State) and Menke (Minnesota Whitecaps, Djurgården, North Dakota).
Squaring off in her season debut, Megan Bozek was rather productive, playing a full twenty minutes of ice time with six shots on the net while taking on Biryusa. Shenzhen would take the victory by a final score of 6-3. Following their win in Krasnoyarsk, the KRS Vanke Rays would capture their fifth consecutive victory, meanwhile, giving them a record of 11-4-0 through the first 15 games of the season.
Their win would also place the team in second place in the ZhHL standings behind Agidel Ufa who are the defending league champions of the Russian Women’s Hockey League. Speaking of wins, the Vanke Rays took on Biryusa again on Thursday and captured their sixth straight victory and back-to-back wins. This time, however, Shenzhen took it by 5-2 final. This would include three points from Alex Carpenter and a goal from Jessica Wong. For Wong, it would be her second goal in two games played since returning to the Vanke Rays.
Before the ZhHL’s international break, Carpenter led the Vanke Rays with 25 points in 14 games played, That being said, her great run continues after coming off of her performance on Thursday. While the 25-year-old native of Cambridge, MA continues to impress, Noora Räty caught attention as well in her season debut in the Russian Women’s Hockey League. This comes after recording a 92.5 SV% while adding one assist en route to the victory.