Cup heads to Soligorsk
Soligorsk Shakhtyor becomes Belarus’ hockey champion after beating Minsk Yunost in final struggle for Presidential Cup
Presidential Cup won by Shakhtyor
Shakhtyor was initially losing to the Minsk hosts, at Chizhovka-Arena. However, in the fourth match of the final round, Maxim Parfeevets took his team into the lead in the fifth minute. Yunost made several attempts at the net, but each was skilfully deflected. The Minsk squad did a little better after halftime, with Alexander Usenko taking a brilliant penalty shot. Despite Shakhtyor having a minority of players, Igor Karabanov managed to score and, 20 seconds before the final whistle, Shakhtyor’s Igor Karabanov claimed the third goal for the Soligorsk team, leaving the score at 3:1. Yunost goalkeeper Vitaly Belinsky had been swapped out at the last moment.
In previous matches, Soligorsk’s players had twice beaten the Minskers at home — 4:3 and 4:1. Later, they beat Minsk 5:1, making the fourth victory a decisive one for Shakhtyor and firm evidence of their worthiness to hold their first ever championship title. The team’s head coach, Andrey Gusov, is delighted by his players’ defeat of Yunost in the Belarusian championship, saying, “We’d been moving towards this victory throughout the season. Beating Yunost across all four final matches is amazing. I cannot praise my guys enough for their work and patience. We’ve experienced ‘lows’ in our six years of existence and now need to develop the club’s infrastructure. Yunost and Gomel boast great material-technical bases, which we can use as our model.”
Mr. Gusov believes that, after winning the 2015 season, the team now needs to hold together. He recalls the sad demise of Minsk Keramin, which became champion in 2008 and then ‘went to pieces’. He is particularly proud of Shakhtyor’s fourth match win, which was achieved despite the players being in the minority.
By Kirill Karin