President's Cup ice hockey competition part of victorious Belarussian team's tradition

Dimitry Baskov, head coach of Belarus President's Team, praises players and level of competition after winning it fourth time in a row.


Belarus President’s Team, red, celebrate their third goal against Abu Dhabi Storms, white, at the President’s Cup ice hockey tournament.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: AMITH
Section: SP
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Dimitry Baskov has paid tribute to the President's Cup Ice Hockey Tournament after his team won it for the fourth year in a row.

The Belarus President’s Team maintained their grip on the title, for which a competition is held in Abu Dhabi every year, after they beat Abu Dhabi Storms 4-1 in the final on Friday.

While lauding his players for their achievement, head coach Baskov said making the trip to the UAE and competing in the capital every year has become something of a tradition for the Belarussian side.

“To play in the competition in Abu Dhabi has become like a tradition for us before the Christmas Cup,” he said, referring to annual amateur tournament played in Belarus in January every year.

“The Abu Dhabi event is a strong competition and ideal to our preparation for the Christmas Cup that draws teams from all over the world, including China, the UAE and a number of teams from Europe.”

The Belarussians brought their 'A' game on Friday when they ran up a 4-0 lead in the summit clash. The Storms, who tried in vain to take the attack to the President's Team, eventually broke their defence for a consolation goal from Jaroslov Obsut.

By then, however, there were just seven minutes left in the final period of play.

Storms coach Matti Fagestrom conceded they were beaten by the better team - one that included contemporary professionals.

“It was a close game and good level of hockey played by all teams throughout the tournament,” the Finn said.

“We had some former professionals in our squad but if we have to win against teams like the Belarus President’s Team, we have to raise the bar to their level.

“We still created a lot of scoring opportunities and could have scored if not for the good work from their goalkeeper [Stepan Goryachevskikh].”

The Belarussians were on the attack from the beginning, and they had three shots at the goal cleared by the Storms netminder Alexander Petrov.

However, Petrov was unable to clear the fourth from Yaraslau Chuprys as the touring party went 1-0 up. They doubled the lead on 10 minutes through a long-range effort to the top of the net from Konstantin Dournov.

The Belarussians added a third on seven minutes in the second period through Maksim Slysh and the fourth from Dzimtry Mialeshka 10 minutes into the third period.

Baskov reiterated their intentions were to win and maintain their 100 per cent record.

“Like all teams we come here to win,” he said. “As I said earlier, it’s an excellent forerunner for our Christmas Cup and we are pretty serious of this competition.

“We have been taking part in this tournament since it was founded four years ago. We are aware it is growing in stature and getting stronger every passing year.

“We also want to be a part of the development programme of UAE’s ice hockey as we have good relationship between the two federations.”

Juma Al Dhaheri, the Storms and the UAE captain, conceded the Belarus President’s Team continued to prove they were the best of the six teams in the competition.

“We raised the bar this year but the Belarussians, perhaps, sensed that and they too raised the level more than we did,” he said.

“We should give credit to them as they take this competition really seriously and that certainly helps us to increase our own levels. I think we can take this experience forward and keep learning from the matches we played.”