International Ice Hockey Federation

Krikunov to coach Belarus

Krikunov to coach Belarus

Salt Lake City “wizard” returns to lead national team

Published 22.10.2014 13:52 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Krikunov to coach Belarus
The time-out before the sensation is perfect: Vladimir Krikunov and the Belarusian national team in the quarter-final against Sweden in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Photo: Gerry Thomas
Vladimir Krikunov was named new head coach of the Belarusian national team. He succeeds Glen Hanlon, who left to coach the Swiss national team.

For the 64-year-old it will be a return to Minsk where he’s remembered well and was introduced as “wizard” when his return was announced on TV.

Krikunov started his coaching career with Dynamo Minsk in the Soviet league in the ‘80s and early ‘90s and led the national team twice in the 2000s. Under his guidance the Belarusian national team had its biggest success ever when it reached fourth place in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City thanks to a quarter-final win over Sweden. Krikunov was less successful one year later when freshly promoted Belarus was relegated at the 2003 IIHF World Championship.

Since then Krikunov has been busy coaching teams in the Russian league as well as on the international stage. He coached the Russian national team for two seasons (2004-2006) and was especially successful in 2005 when he first led Dynamo Moscow to the Russian championship and a few weeks later won bronze at the 2005 Worlds in Austria.

In the 2012/2013 season Krikunov was doubling up with Kazakh KHL team Barys Astana and the Kazakh national team and led it to promotion to the top division before leaving the country and working for KHL rival Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk where he was released as a coach during the season but has been working for the club as a Vice President since.

The expectations in Belarus are high after a great year for hockey when the country succeeded both on and off the ice at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The team reached the quarter-finals for the first time in five years and Belarus set a new attendance record with 640,044 spectators coming to games at the two venues in Minsk.

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“The Belarusian national team has no shortage of great players,” Krikunov said at a press conference in Minsk. “I’ll have to guide them and be successful as a coach. After (coaching) this national team I guess I will not work anymore. I have to achieve the best possible result.”

Krikunov signed a contract for two years with the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association with an option to extend it until 2018.

“We assume that Krikunov will work during this Olympic cycle with the result of going to the 2018 Olympics in Korea and to achieve success at the World Championships,” BIHA President Yevgeni Vorsin said.

Krikunov will work for the first time during the international break in November when Belarus will play at the European Ice Hockey Challenge tournament in Ljubljana with host Slovenia, Austria and Japan, an event in which he plans to assemble only players from the Belarusian Extraliga.

His first big event will be the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic. In Group B in Ostrava the Belarusians will face Finland, Russia, the United States, Slovakia, Norway, Slovenia and Denmark.


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