Women’s hockey strengthening
Belarus’ exclusive women’s professional hockey team — Pantera — to play two national tournaments next season: open championships of Latvia and Austria
Latvia’s Open Championship is scheduled from October to March, featuring the Belarusian team, Latvian Laima and Saga (from Riga), Zemgale (Jelgava) and Estonian Sputnik (Kohtla-Jarve). In Austria, Pantera will face Austria’s Sabres and Vienna Flyers (from Vienna), the Salzburg Eagles (Salzburg), Slovakia’s Slovan (Bratislava) and a Dutch team, with matches held from mid-September to late February. Pantera’s General Director, Yevgeny Kukushkin, is convinced that the Belarusian team is strong enough to perform well in these two leagues. “We’ll play 16 matches as part of the Latvian championship and 20 in Germany — not many. However, this new project has a single disadvantage: only two or three teams from Austria’s elite league will be able to come to Belarus; we’ll need to play others away,” he says. Having won Latvia’s Open Championship, Pantera has qualified for the IIHF European Women’s Champions Cup (featuring 16 teams in total). Its head coach, Vasily Pankov, is to continue coaching the team next season, with the line-up remaining almost unchanged. Russian forward Marina Sergina is likely to depart, with 2-3 new legionnaires arriving.