Aleinikovas to coach Lithuania
by Martin Merk|18 MAR 2021
Arunas Aleinikovas was a goaltending coach when Lithuania won the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B on home ice in Kaunas.
photo: Sarunas Mazeika
Arunas Aleinikovas has been named new head coach of the Lithuanian men’s national team.

The 42-year-old is the first domestic coach in 11 years to work as head coach of the men’s national team and replaces Daniel Lacroix.

The native of Elektrenai has represented Lithuania in 13 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments as a goaltender and has been working as a goaltending coach and assistant coach with the national team since 2013. During the past years he has worked at club level with Neman Grodno of the Belarusian Extraliga.

“Working with the national team will be a new and long-awaited challenge to me,” Aleinikovas said. “I had the chance to work with excellent foreign coaches such as Bernd Haake, Daniel Lacroix and Ron Pasco. As assistants we watched them closely and were able to improve by observing their work. Now is a great opportunity for us [Lithuanian coaches] to lead the team ourselves. I’m very pleased that Hockey Lietuva made the decision to offer me the position as head coach. I feel ready and really want it.”

Aleinikovas will be assistant by long-time assistant coach Sarunas Kuliesius and long-time national team player Mindaugas Kieras, who will work with the forwards and defencemen respectively.

The coaching team’s first assignment will be a camp in Vilnius and tournament in Tychy, Poland, planned in April. For this event and due to the current situation most players for that tournament will be coming from the Lithuanian championship.

Bernd Haake will continue as head coach of the women’s national team for another year. The 75-year-old German led the team last season in its first season in IIHF play when Lithuania finished the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division III in fifth place with a 2-3 record.

The Lithuanians will play at the Olympic Pre-Qualification Round 1 in Reykjavik, Iceland from 26 to 29 August and will start the preparation with two short camps in April and May.