Hockey players from main team defeated by Swedish but remain optimistic

Belarus’ national team continues training for World Championship, attending EuroChallenge major tournament, featuring national squads of Belarus, Austria, Sweden and Finland

By Dmitry Baranovsky

The Belarusian national hockey team, under the guidance of new coach Kari Heikkila, opened the EuroChallenge with two matches against Austria. However, Sweden presented the most serious challenge — being silver medallists of the last World Championship (and eighttime winners). However, in 2002, the Belarusian national team sensationally beat Sweden’s Tre Kronor at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. This time, the Scandinavians claimed victory in both matches.

The first match at Minsk-Arena saw the Belarusians keep their lead until the last five minutes, losing only in after-match shootouts. The second game saw Belarus equalising, but the match went into overtime and a series of shootouts, which their rivals won. Nevertheless, the head coach of the Belarusian national team remains quite optimistic.

“Of the four recent matches, it was only after the second game against Austria that I felt I needed to look at mistakes,” explains Mr. Heikkila. “We met to thoroughly scrutinise our errors and discussed everything. To improve, the subtlest details are important. When we better master the system, we’ll play faster automatically, reacting by reflex.”

Fans may be able to see the first results of the squad’s improved system this coming weekend. In Tampere, the team is to play its last matches of the EuroChallenge — against the Finnish team.

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