Time for good play yet to come

Belarusian national hockey team ranked 14th at 2011 IIHF World Championship and this year demonstrates same result

By Yuri Bokushev

The Belarusian national squad has suffered defeats from Finland, Switzerland, the USA, Slovakia, France and Canada and has celebrated only one victory — over Kazakhstan. Our team has preserved its place for next year in the elite division but, of course, fans expected more from their favourite team.

The Belarusian national team head coach, Finnish Kari Heikkila, has brought together almost all the strongest players from the CHL (excepting Sergey Demagin, who didn’t attend the tournament because of injury) and our players from the National Hockey League: Mikhail Grabovski, and Sergey and Andrey Kostitsyn.

Before the start of the Finnish-Swedish World Championship, the team had been long training at Minsk-Arena, organising many friendly matches. However, this failed to bring a successful performance.

The failure is unpleasant itself but also extremely disappointing, since those ranked 1-9th by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) automatically gain a place at the Olympic Games in Sochi. Belarus is thus obliged to fight for a place (having fallen from 11th to 13th place) next February, at the Olympic qualification tournament hosted by Denmark.

The World Championship results hold no joy for us but Mr. Heikkila is eager to be optimistic, asserting, “Nevertheless, I’ve thanked our players and am pleased with the progress of defenders Pavel Chernook, Nikolay Stasenko and Roman Graborenko. Konstantin Koltsov has done well among the forwards, having got his hands dirty and scored important goals.

Alexander Kitarov, Andrey Stas and Andrey Kolosov have also done well. Of course, the result is negative for us but success doesn’t come immediately. I’ve only been working with the team for around two months while the national teams of France, Switzerland, Norway and Finland have had their coaches for several seasons now. We must be patient.”

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