The Belarusian Ice Hockey Association’s executive committee under its new leadership named new head coaches of its national teams including Andrei Sidorenko as new head coach of the men’s national team.
Sidorenko follows after Dave Lewis and Sergei Pushkov, who coached the team at the recent IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship where Belarus was relegated and consequently will not play at the top level for the first time in 15 years. He was selected from a group of applicants that also included Alexander Andrievski and Eduard Zankovets as main candidates.
Sidorenko is a familiar name in Belarusian ice hockey. He was the first national team coach in history of the country after gaining independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Belarus started in 1994 in the World Championship C-Pool and under Sidorenko moved up to the B-Pool for 1996, his third and last season as national team coach in that era. In the 1995/1996 season he also coached the U20 national team.
The 59-year-old was born in the Chelyabinsk Region where he started his career in the Soviet league. He also represented the Soviet Union in the 1979 World Juniors where the team won gold. Later he moved to Minsk as a player and started as a coach when retiring as a player in 1992. He coached several club teams in Belarus during his career including Dynamo Minsk, Tivali Minsk, Khimik Novopolotsk and HK Gomel. He also spent the 2004/2005 season in Poland coaching the national team and Unia Oswiecim and was coaching teams in the top two Russian leagues including Spartak Moscow, Metallurg Novokuznetsk, Amur Khabarovsk, Traktor Chelyabinsk and most recently Dizel Pensa.
The Belarusian Ice Hockey Association and Sidorenko will sign a one-year contract with an option for an extension.
After suffering relegation, Belarus, which will co-host the World Championship with Latvia in 2021, aims at immediate promotion back to the top division. The Belarusians will play the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Astana against Korea, host Kazakhstan, Hungary, Slovenia and Lithuania with the top-two teams earning promotion for the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Switzerland.
“It was important to have a clear understanding about realistic tasks for the coach: the return of the national team to the elite, succeeding in the Olympic Qualification and an honourable performance at the home-ice World Championship in 2021. All coaches called the work uneasy but viable,” said Gennadi Savilov, the new President of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association about the ambitions.
Dmitri Kravchenko was named new head coach of the U20 national team. Like the men’s team, the U20 team was relegated and will play next winter in the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group A in Fussen with Latvia, host Germany, France, Austria and Norway.
Kravchenko will also be one of Sidorenko’s assistant coaches on the men’s national team. It is also planned that one of the coaches of the Belarusian KHL team Dynamo Minsk will work as an assistant coach of the national team, possibly Sergei Stas or Konstantin Koltsov.
Yevgeni Yesaulov will coach the U18 national team, which will participate in the senior league back home before playing at the top-level 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Sweden.