Photo: AUT-BLR, olympijská kvalifikácia Andrej Galica
The Belarussian National hockey team got off to a rough start in the Olympic qualifying tournament this week when they lost 1-0 to Team Poland on Wednesday. Their issues continued on Friday when they were down 2-0 to the Austrian team after the first period. Team Belarus needed to turn it around and in a hurry or else they would be eliminated from qualifying for the 2022 Olympics.
Fortunately, Team Belarus came out of the dressing room after the first intermission fired up. Less than a minute into the second period, Andrei Stas scored a power play goal to put Belarus on the board and break their 70 minute scoring drought in the tournament. Five minutes later, Yegor Sharanovich, the Team Captain, scored the equalizer to make it 2-2.
Over two minutes after the midpoint of the period, Yegor Sharanovich scored again. He got assists from Capitals prospect, Aliaksei Protas, and Nikita Komorov. This put Team Belarus ahead 3-2.
Belarus added two more goals late in the period to increase their lead to 5-2, the final score. The victory over Austria eliminated them from qualifying for the Olympics. Meanwhile, Belarus remains alive in its quest for an Olympic berth. Their opponent from Wednesday, Poland, lost to Slovakia on Friday.
Belarus’ third and final game is on Sunday. A win and a loss by Poland in their final game will give the tournament and Olympic qualification to Belarus.
As was the case with the first game, today’s the line for Belarus featured Yegor Sharangovich (New Jersey Devils) at left wing, Aliaksei Protas at center, and Shane Prince at right wing.
Chris Peters, NHL Draft and Prospects analyst, editor of Hockey Sense on Substack, talked about today’s action on Twitter.
Yegor Sharangovich (NJD) leads Belarus to 5-2 win over Austria. Marco Rossi (MIN) and Benjamin Baumgartner (NJD) had assists for Austria. Strong game from Alexei Protas (WSH) as well. Austria cannot qualify for the Olympics.
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) August 27, 2021
After the game, Protas spoke to the press about the comeback. “At the beginning of the match we turned out to be very nervous. In the first period, the opponent dictated their game. But in the second period, we turned the tide of the match. This was done thanks to the leaders, Andryukha [Andrei] Stas. Stas was leading us. Yegor Sharangovich scored important goals. All the guys played great, they added everything, thanks to this they pulled out the game.”
He also talked about Andrei Stas, the player who started the scoring for Belarus, “Andryukha Stas said his weighty word. He is really great, he is our leader in the dressing room, in the team. He led himself not only in word, but also in deed.”
Protas also expressed his confidence in the team for the remainder of the tournament, “I think we will not lose. Everyone understands how important the next game is. We are getting ready to show our best hockey. Nobody is going to stop.”
By Diane Doyle
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