Posted: 27.06.2023 16:07:00

Protas did his job, now Protas can rest

In the American Hockey League, the Belarusian hockey player ended the season with a resounding victory in the Calder Cup, the second most important club hockey trophy. In any case, they think so in North America, believing that the victory in the playoffs of the American Hockey League is inferior in status and importance only to the Stanley Cup, which is generally beyond any competition. However, in our parts, of course, they will argue with this and insist on the solidity and authority of the Gagarin Cup, but, in general, the truth will remain somewhere nearby: winning the Calder trophy is really a great achievement. Which was subdued the day before by Aliaksei Protas — he became the third Belarusian hockey player in history to raise the coveted prize above his head.

The denouement was just crazy! In the final, the Hershey Bears (the farm club of Washington), for which our forward plays, fought with Coachella (a subsidiary of Seattle). The beginning of the series turned out to be catastrophic for the ‘bears’: two away defeats with a devastating score (0:4 and 0:5) seemed to bury hopes for success, but the guys did not give up. This was followed by three home victories (5:4, 3:2, 1:0), another defeat (2:5), and everything was eventually decided in the final, seventh match. On the court of the rival Hershey, losing with a score of 0:2, managed to find the strength to turn the tide of the match and won in overtime — 3:2! Aliaksei Protas scored an assist on the second goal, and only the 22-year-old striker scored 13 (5 + 8) points in 20 meetings in this playoff — this is the third result in the team. Add to this indicator 58 matches in the National Hockey League for Washington (4 goals + 11 assists) — and you will understand how eventful and successful the season was for the pupil of the Vitebsk hockey school. Do not forget, moreover, that this was the first full-fledged season at the adult level for Protas overseas — he was withdrawn to Washington from HC Dinamo Minsk in March 2021. By the way, in the KHL, Protas also managed to show his best, scoring five goals and breaking Yegor Sharangovich’s record for goals in one season for Zubr players under the age of 20.
Before Aliaksei Protas, only Mikhail Grabovski and Andrei Kostitsyn managed to win the Calder Cup, and in the same year and in the same club. 
It happened in 2007, when Hamilton defeated their Hershey in the final series. Both then successfully played in the NHL, becoming leaders of their clubs. Let’s hope that a bright future awaits the newly minted champion. In any case, the appointment of Spencer Carbery, with whom Aliaksei worked quite successfully in previous years at Hershey, to the post of head coach of Washington, and great reviews about the actions of the Belarusian from the local press, calling him the future of the team, are very pushing to such thoughts. Now Aliaksei Protas, therefore, it’s time to take a swing at the Stanley Cup, which so far has not been earned by any of the Belarusians.

By Sergei Kanashits