Dave Lewis is looking towards May
National ice hockey team begins training for IIHF World Championships, at Minsk-Arena
Training begins with a gruelling double session daily, with the coaching staff setting rigorous goals. Unlike last year, players now realise that Dave Lewis’ methods pay off. Chatting with journalists, he has announced, “We’re still assessing the performance of some players this season and changes remain possible. However, we don’t want to have too many players in training, so the core has been chosen.”
Kevin Lalande and Vladimir Denisov are now absent…
Lalande is training in Canada and will join us next week, while Denisov has undergone surgery and won’t be able to help the team at the World Championship. We’re pinning hopes on Nikolay Stasenko and Nick Bailen, who are currently recovering from injuries.
How important are Graborenko, Yevenko and Govotets to the squad?
I’m pleased with their performance this season. Of course, I’d like them all at the team’s disposal and some may arrive later; their clubs are currently in the play-offs zone.
Before the world forum begins, the national team of Belarus will gain players from Minsk Yunost and the North American leagues, as well as Kevin Lalande (who’ll join the squad next week) and Jeff Platt from CSKA.
Our national team needs to conserve its energy, so that it doesn’t hit the World Championships in May feeling exhausted. April’s friendly matches, under the guidance of Dave Lewis and fitness trainer Vladimir Bure, should ensure that the men pace themselves. One of the team’s leaders, Charles Linglet, who missed preparatory training before the official camp began, tells us, “I was engaged in family affairs in Florida, going after the finish of my season with Dinamo. I spent time with my wife and children, and ‘kept house’, but also kept myself in good shape, training on ice and in the gym. I’m familiar with Bure’s methods and I know that a difficult time lies ahead, but I’m ready. I’d like to bring as much as I can to the World Championship, so I know that I need to work hard during training.”
One of the pillars of the Belarusian team, Andrey Kostitsyn, echoes this sentiment, saying, “After the end of the club season, I took a week-long rest and then returned to Minsk to train. I feel great and would like to repeat our achievement of last year, perhaps even bettering it. I need to analyse my mistakes of last year and eradicate them.”
The Olympic qualification matches are being held at Minsk-Arena, in September. As to whether these are more important than matches for the forthcoming IIHF World Championships, Dave Lewis states, diplomatically, “We’re focusing on the World Championship in Russia, training for this. Once it’s over, we’ll start thinking about the Olympic qualification matches.
By Kirill Karin
Maxim Ryzhenkov, the First Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus, notes that Belarus can host the IIHF World Championships as many times as it likes. “The issue of our country’s repeated hosting of the IIHF World Championships, in 2020, 2021 or 2022, is being seriously discussed with the International Ice Hockey Federation,” he comments.