Date: August 26, 2016

Denmark viewed as favorite of Olympic ice hockey qualifying tournament in Minsk


By Belarus News

Denmark is the favorite to win the upcoming Olympic ice hockey qualifying tournament in Minsk, Chairman of Belarus Ice Hockey Federation Igor Rachkovsky told reporters after a training session of Belarus national team, BelTA has learned. “Denmark has a very strong team. However, the previous qualifying tournament in 2013 also featured strong teams, and the winner was Slovenia. The level of teams who will come to Minsk in early September is not lower than that of the Belarusians, but, in my opinion, Denmark is the favorite to win,” Igor Rachkovsky said. The Olympic qualifying tournament will take place in Minsk on 1-4 September 2016. Dave Lewis’ team will compete for a berth in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics against the teams of Denmark (1 September), Poland (2 September), and Slovenia (4 September). The best placed team will advance to the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Organizers promise a colorful opening ceremony of the tournament to be held in Minsk Arena. The hospitality zone will be opened two hours before the first match.

Datsyuk, Kovalchuk in seventh heaven


Pavel Datsyuk’s home debut for SKA was one of the most hotly anticipated events in town – and the Magic Man wasted no time in casting a spell on his new public. It took the former Detroit Red Wing just 30 seconds to get his first KHL goal for his new employer, sparking a rout of Salavat Yulaev.

It was a characteristic finish, on the backhand and from a tight angle, that left visiting goalie Niklas Svedberg floundering on his crease. And Datsyuk wasn’t done: midway through the opening stanza his inviting pass across the face of the net found Slava Voynov and the ex-LA Kings D-man instinctively smashed home a one-timer. 

For SKA, so disappointing in the opening game at Traktor, the performance and scoreline was more in keeping with pre-season expectations; another goal early in the second saw Ilya Kovalchuk open his account for the campaign on the power play. Kovalchuk, scratched from the line-up during last season’s playoffs, took the opportunity to announce that he was back in business this season. He added a second in the 33rd minute and found Sergei Plotnikov on the slot to make it 5-0 just before the second intermission.  

The night’s brightest stars combined to make it 6-0: Datsyuk’s pass set up Kovalchuk for his hat-trick – the first in the KHL this season – and left Salavat Yulaev in total disarray. Igor Zakharkin, back at one of his former clubs, at least had the satisfaction of seeing his team get on the scoresheet through Teemu Hartikainen. SKA still had the last word, though, with Nikita Gusev getting a seventh – unusually with no contribution from Datysuk or Kovalchuk this time.