The change follows a bad start into the tournament with losses against Sweden (5-0), France (6-2) and Russia (6-0) that brings the co-host of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in danger of relegation.
According to the press release on Tuesday morning, “the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association and Dave Lewis made the decision by mutual consent that another specialist must lead the Belarusian national team. Dave Lewis believes that changes in the coaching staff can give the team the necessary stimulus to improve the game, that’s why he leaves the team.”
Replacing a head coach during the tournament is seldom in IIHF tournaments but happened just over a year ago when Finland fell from defending champion to relegation round participant at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The former NHL player and coach Lewis worked as the assistant coach of the Belarusian national team between 2008 and 2010 and was the team’s head coach for the fourth season since starting in 2014/15.
Sergei Pushkov is in his first season with the Belarusian national team that he joined as an assistant coach. He spent most of his career as a player in Russia and Norway and represented Russia at the 1993 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
He started his career as a coach in Norway with the Frisk Asker junior team before moving to Belarus for the first time in 2006 to coach Khimik-SKA Novopolotsk as his first senior hockey team. During these four years he also coached the Belarusian U18 national team in 2009. Later he had coaching stints in Norway, coached Neman Grodno to a championship in 2014 after coming in during the season and was coaching in his hometown SKA St. Petersburg’s farm team in the second-tier VHL before returning to Belarus in 2016. In his two seasons he led Neman Grodno to back-to-back Belarusian championships.
After a day off Belarus will play Switzerland and the Czech Republic before ending the preliminary round with key games to avoid relegation against Austria and Slovakia.