Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Belarus

December 23, 2009

Over the next two weeks, countries will be releasing their Men's Olympic Hockey Rosters. Its always an exciting endevour, finally finding out who is on each team after months of speculation. The list of when each team will be releasing their roster can be found here.

I'll be using these occasions not only to relay the final rosters, but to also provide a bit of a preview of how I think each country will fair. First to announce their roster is:


Olympic Appearances: 1998, 2002
Best Finish: 4th (2002)
Total Medals Won:0
Pool: Sweden, Finland, Germany

Belarus has long been considered one of the 'weaker sisters' of international hockey, but that hasn't stopped them from leaving their impact on the Games. Everyone (especially Tommy Salo) remembers the HUGE upset of Sweden in Salt Lake City, that pushed them through the quarterfinals. Belarus was quickly thumped by Canada 7-1 in the semi's, but boy was it entertaining.

Entertaining...right Tommy?

As big as that was for Belarus, I don't expect them to be able to repeat that magic. Drawing Sweden, Germany and Finland in their pool, its almost a certainty that they'll fall into the qualification playoffs, needing to reel off 4 straight wins for gold.

I expect them to drop all three games in their pool, although they may give the Germans a run for their money. Once they hit the qualification pool, they're going to need another miracle upset to even get to the Quarterfinals. My money is on 0-4, and a plane ticket back to Minsk.

Anyways, onto the roster. Even as an also-ran, Belarus features a few NHLers in Grabovski (Toronto), Ruslan Salei (Colorado) and the Kostitsyn brothers (both Montreal). Andrei Mezin is probably the only other familiar name to North American hockey fans, based off his performance in 2002. He currently plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.

Vitali Koval
Maxim Malyutin
Andrei Mezin

Andrei Antonov
Andrei Bashko
Vladimir Denisov
Viktor Kostiuchenok
Ruslan Salei
Nikolai Stasenko
Vadim Sushko
Alexander Syrei
Oleg Antonenko
Sergei Demagin


Mikhail Grabovski
Alexei Kaliuzhny
Konstantin Koltsov
Andrei Kostitsyn
Sergei Kostitsyn
Alexander Kulakov
Andrei Mikhalev
Andrei Stas
Alexei Ugarov
Sergei Zadelenov

One thing to watch out for is the often rocky relationship between Grabovski and the two Kostitsyn. Its never come out exactly what transpired between them while Grabs was in Montreal, but these three players seem to have a healthy hate on for each other. It will be interesting to see how (if) they get along with each other.

Regardless, expect the Belarussians to rely heavily on this trio. At the 2009 world championships Grabovski racked up an average of 27:23 of ice time a game.

The other puzzling item here is that Belarus has apparently named 10 defence, and 10 forwards (list from Thats a very very odd balance, normally it would be 13 forwards and 7 defence. I wonder why Belarus has decided to roll with that many defencemen. Are they expecting to play Grabovski and the Kostitsyns so much that they only need three forward lines??

Linkback: Other Rosters


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This blog is the online chronicle of our adventures leading up to, and including, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We hope to give you a little insight into what went into planning our trip and a first hand look at the Games from the ground in Vancouver.

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