This is a convincing and wonderful victory, which has opened the potential of our national team from a new side while confirming to all the sceptics that Glen Hanlon is our man and that his methods really work. This is a victory that forced us to believe that not everything is gloomy in our hockey, even taking into account the pile of problems, and that Belarus may even be among the best hockey nations of the world, if a decent level of professionalism and hard work is ensured.
Five delivered pucks and two missed pucks resulted in an intense and dramatic victory. The game against the national squad of Germany initially promised many nervous minutes both to players and fans of the Belarusian team, and it truly met expectations.
Going two goals down, even before the middle of the first period, put Glen Hanlon’s trainees in a very difficult situation. However, they managed to brilliantly find a way out from it. The first puck was won back by the hosts before the break, with Andrey Stepanov scoring the goal. However, it was Alexey Ugarov who scored an even more vital goal.
Then Mikhail Grabovski’s double followed. And Geoff Platt’s goal was the last; he has finally opened the scoring of his own delivered pucks at this championship after many attempts. Regaining their senses after the starting confusion, the hosts of the ice left no doubts about the result of the current meeting.
Glen Hanlon, head coach of the Belarusian team, said at an after-match press conference, “I would primarily like to wish good luck to the Germans in the remaining matches. This young team has a great future. As head coaches of the national teams, we always hope that all our strongest players will arrive, but many failed to do this in Pet’s squad. Meanwhile, we have players able to decide the result of the match, and today they have demonstrated this. We were two pucks behind yet played greatly. We have Kostitsyn, Kalyuzhny and Grabovski who have proven that they are top level players.”
Grabovski explained the failure in the first period was due to tiredness. How would you explain?
I believe that we were more rested during the match against the Finns, and if Mikhail says this while being on the ice then this is really so.
What forced the replacement of Koval?
As you know, Vitaly has missed the last match because of health problems. We spoke to him, and he said that he was able to play but he doesn’t feel 100percent well himself.
Alexey Kalyuzhny: ‘I had to speak more severely’
Alexey, how is your mood after the match?
The mood… We’ll be happy for half an hour and then will start preparing for the next match.
We’ve missed two goals after individual mistakes. How would you comment on this?
The first puck was delivered after a ricochet, and it’s difficult to say anything in this situation. As far as the second is concerned, we’ve lost players. I wouldn’t say that this is peculiar for us, but this was like a wake-up call — some kind of cold shower for the whole team. It’s good that we’ve managed to realise the majority and scored before the break. After the second puck, delivered by Alexey Ugarov, everything was back under our control.
What happened in the locker room after the first period?
I had to speak to the players slightly more severely.
The match against Germany was expected to be difficult. Could you imagine to which degree?
If you would ask me whether I remember my last easy match I wouldn’t find an answer. How can a game be easy here, at the World Championship?
Mikhail Grabovski: ‘We haven’t defeated the Latvians for a long time but it’s necessary to change the statistics’
In the match against the national squad of Germany, Grabovski distinguished himself twice and shared his opinion on the finished and the next matches after the final signal.
What were you thinking after the second German goal?
It was very unpleasant.
What enabled you to make a comeback after being down 0:2 in the first period?
Probably, dedication and discipline. Hockey is a game where one can’t be relaxed, but not everyone remembers about this. We relaxed for a while, lost concentration and gave away two goals. Then we gathered our strength and everything stood at its place. The players understood that one can’t make such mistakes and we began to act more cautious.
Is this Belarusian character merely beautiful words or is it really something special?
I don’t know whether it’s special but it definitely exists. Being a pupil of the Yunost School, I’m well aware of this. We’ve won many games under the guidance of Mikhail Zakharov directly due to our Belarusian character. As far as our Canadian coach, Glen Hanlon is concerned; you know everything well for yourself. He has also taught us much. Meanwhile, we still have many things to work on.