Belarus at World Junior Championship Buffalo: What to expect?


Belarus at World Junior Championship Buffalo: What to expect?

The Belarusian team will hold at least 5 matches at the start of the 42nd Junior WM 2018 in Buffalo on Tuesday, at most 7. At the preliminary stage, Belarus will play in group B against Sweden, Switzerland, Russia and the Czech Republic.

In parallel, the USA, Canada, Denmark, Slovakia and Finland group will play in Group A. The four best teams from each group will make their way to the playoffs, while the outsiders in will compete for saving a place in the elite.

Belarusians will play in the elite for the eighth time in history and the second time for the last three years.

What are the chances of remaining in the elite?

Judging by the bookmakers, they are the worst.

Belarusians last saved their elite place 15 years ago in Pardubice and Gradec-Kralove. Back then the team of Vladimir Melenchuk with Andrei Kostitsyn, Konstantin Zakharov, Mikhail Grabovsky pushed France into the first division. Since then, Belarus has not stayed in the elite. Worse, from 2007 to 2015, Belarus did not make it into the elite at all. The long-awaited return brought nothing but disappointment.

Belarus played several friendlies before the WM winning at Buffalo youth 5:0 and losing 0:14 to the mighty USA and 1:4 to Slovakia, which is already alarming.

Who may be Belarus' savers?

Belarus pins hopes on the players contracted to overseas clubs. In the Ontario League, considered the strongest in the CHL system, the best is the prospect of Philadelphia and the forward of Owen Sound Maxim Sushko. The Brest hockey school student, he has a point per match on average 26 points in 28 matches.

Sushko's teammate Igor Martynov (Victoria) has 25 points in 34 matches. Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Prince George) has more modest figures - 9+12 in 31 matches.

It is necessary to note Vladislav Eremenko, one of the best players in the WHL in his role.

He did not take part in the 2017 draft, but did not lose heart. At Calgary, Eremenko continues to progress. This season, he collected a harvest of 26 (8+18) points in 31 matches - a cool figure for the defender.