Testing ‘Lewis’ formulae’ on ice
Belarus’ national ice hockey team beats Slovenia – 4:2, at its first match of the 2015 World Championship
In recent years, Slovenia has been a determined rival to Belarus, winning four out of the five most recent matches (which preceded the meeting in Ostrava). Slovenia notably beat our team during the notorious Olympic qualification round, in February 2013.
The Belarusian national team line-up lacked key players Jeff Platt, Vladimir Denisov, Konstantin Koltsov, Roman Graborenko, Kirill Gotovets, Dmitry Meleshko and Alexey Ugarov, for various reasons. Moreover, Mikhail Grabovski’s arrival failed at the last moment, and there was also information that captain Alexey Kalyuzhny would be absent because of an injury.
Alexey appeared on the ice despite being in pain, truly testing his strength. The squad played hard, regardless of being the ‘underdog’. In the third period, leading 3:1, the Belarusian team began to play defensively rather than going on the attack but failed to stop a goal from Slovenian Pance. The rivals then brought in a new goalkeeper and received a luxurious gift from the referee: a removal.
However, the Belarusian national team didn’t lose heart, with Alexander Kitarov stealing the puck from obviously tired Anže Kopitar (an NHL player) and scoring. Goalkeeper Kevin Lalande performed brilliantly in saving goal after goal.
The victory left our team in good spirits, but their jubilation was marred the following day, when Slovakia took revenge, winning 2:1. The Belarusians began making mistakes early in the first period; if it were not for Lalande’s mastery, several goals would have been scored.
Less than five minutes into the game, the Slovak squad was given a penalty shot, saved nobly by Lalande. The Belarusians organised several dangerous counterattacks, but were kept at bay by Slovak goalkeeper Ján Laco. The second period saw the teams playing equally well, although Lalande and Laco’s defence was stronger than the squad’s attack. The third period brought a goal from Sergey Kostitsyn, following a perfect combination. However, within a minute, Andrej Meszároš had equalised — 1:1. The match went into overtime, leading to a goal three minutes before the final whistle, shot by Meszároš.
In both games, Dave Lewis’ trainees played well, regardless of missing key players. This can’t but inspire optimism. The group stage is gaining momentum and it seems that our Belarusian national ice hockey team has a fair chance of reaching the play-offs.
By Igor Grishin
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