RIGA – The Latvian Hockey Federation (LHF) named Aleksandrs Belavskis as new head coach of the men’s national team. His application was approved at a board meeting on Tuesday.
Born in Vitebsk in what is today Belarus, Belavskis started to play hockey at Dinamo Riga where he played for several years in the top Soviet league before moving to Sweden where he was playing for 12 seasons mostly for Björklöven Umeå. After independence he represented Latvia in nine consecutive IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship events, six in the top division and three in the B Pool. He also represented Latvia in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In 104 international games he scored 47 goals and had 48 assists.
After ending his playing career he started as a coach Björklöven Umeå, first with the U20, then with the senior team. He was also coaching MODO Örnsköldsvik’s U20 team and Vännäs HC in Sweden, Russian second-tier team Molot-Prikamie Perm and in the last two years Dynamo-Shinnik Bobruisk, Dynamo Minsk’s junior team that is playing in the Russian junior league MHL.
With the national team he already had one coaching experience. At the 2004 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic he was Kurt Lindström’s assistant coach when Latvia finished in seventh place – the best placement in World Championship play the Baltic nation also reached in 1997 and 2009.
The 50-year-old replaces Ted Nolan, who was coaching the Latvian national team for two years but started a new job with the Buffalo Sabres already last season.
Next spring Belavskis will return to the arena where he had his last World Championship. Latvia will play its preliminary-round group of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic in Prague where the maroon-white team will face Sweden, Canada, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria.