After a one-year stasis of the same ten teams in the World Junior Championship Top Division thanks to COVID-19, today Belarus punched their ticket to Russia in 2023 by emerging victorious atop Division IA in Denmark, going a perfect 5-0 in the tournament and sealing their victory with a win over Norway.
Outscoring the likes of Norway, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Denmark and Hungary by a combined 26-8, Belarus could not be stopped in Hørsholm, with forward Alexander Suvorov leading the way with four goals and eleven points in just those five games. Entering the final day, Belarus needed just one point to clinch, while Norway and Latvia still had the outside possibility, but in need of regulation wins and outside help.
However, after trailing by two earlier in the game, it was a Valentin Demchenko empty goal with just 42 seconds remaining in the third period, with Norway pulling goaltender Markus Stenstrud in need of a regulation win, that sealed Belarus’ return to the Top Division for the first time since 2018. The Bisons, who have not stayed in the Top Division in consecutive seasons since 2003, will hope that a relatively close “home” advantage of playing in neighbouring Russia will help see them stay through to 2024, but they will be in tough to punch their ticket to Gothenburg for the following year.