KHL.ru continues its round-up of the season. Today we’re looking at Dinamo Minsk. The Belarusians encountered several challenges during the season and could rarely draw on a full-strength roster. Nonetheless, the team still made it to the playoffs.

Dinamo got off to a good start. The Bison even spent some time in the top three in the West, but were unable to build on that foundation. Before the end of the fall, the roster was disrupted by injury and illness and at times Craig Woodcroft could only ice three full lines. That had a serious impact in November, when Dinamo lost eight of its 10 games. Through the winter, Minsk had a more or less consistent line-up and picked up valuable points in its push for a playoff spot. In the end, Dinamo finished eight, but was only a point behind Lokomotiv in sixth.

For the second time in a row, Dinamo faced SKA in the playoffs. Game one was a blow-out in Petersburg but after that the Belarusians looked much more competitive. Despite failing to win a single game, Minsk came close in both its home encounters, missing out by a single goal each time.

Top players

Taylor Beck

39 (8+31) points in 46 games

In the KHL, Beck consistently clears 30 points. This season, the Canadian had more than 30 assists to set a new personal best in the league. Beck was the architect behind Dinamo’s offense, to the extent that even with relatively few goals he finished as the club’s top scorer.

Malte Stromwall

36 (22+14) points in 42 games

The Swede, who previously represented Sochi and SKA, had a great season and finished as Dinamo’s top goalscorer. He got the bulk of his goals on the power play – 13 in total, the fourth highest in the league – and four of his tallies were game-winners.

Ilya Usov

26 (9+17) points in 44 games

Usov was fourth in scoring on the team and was the only Belarusian player among Dinamo’s top scorers. His progress is striking – from nine points last term to 26 this, from four goals to nine and from -10 to +7 for the season.

Coaching

Craig Woodcroft is Dinamo’s longest-serving KHL coach. His first experience on the team came in 2016-2017 when he led the team to a club record 105 points in the regular season and took fifth place in the West. The Canadian returned to Minsk in 2019 and has worked without a break since then. He’s not managed to hit those record-breaking heights since – finishing 12th, seventh and eighth in the conference – but his place is secure. “There was one condition: make the playoffs. That task was achieved, so the contract extension kicks in automatically,” said General Director Sergei Sushko. “Craig himself has a huge appetite for working in our country and helping to develop our hockey.”

Best game

In late September Dinamo went to Chelyabinsk and produced an almost flawless performance against a Traktor team in great form. An early goal set the tone, and subsequently the Bison harried Traktor into errors and took full advantage of every chance. It finished 5-0, with Stromwall getting 3 (1+2) points and young goalie Alexei Kolosov stopping 31 shots.

Young players

We’ve already mentioned two youngsters – Ilya Usov and Alexei Kolosov. The 20-year-old goalie made the most of his chance at the start of the season, when Slovak international Patrik Rybar was unavailable. Kolosov was solid, winning 11 of his 22 games, stopping 90.6% of shots and finishing with a GAA of 2.9.

On defense, 22-year-old Sergei Sapego did well. He had an average of 13:40 per game and picked up 10 (2+8) points with a rating of +8.

Summer activity

Dinamo’s work in the transfer market has been interesting, but so far the results are mixed. There have been significant departures – Beck and Usov are gone and promising 23-year-old defenseman Vladislav Yeryomenko has joined Metallurg.

However, the management has secured several key players. The most significant of these could be Ilya Shinkevich, Dinamo’s best defenseman of the season.

Other important returnees include Sergei Sapego, Nikita Pyshkailo (who made his KHL debut as an emergency call-up and rose to the challenge with four points in his first five games) and Alexei Kolosov. Konstantin Shostak arrived on loan from Severstal, giving Dinamo a young and hugely talented goaltending duo.

Dinamo has also done well to attract some imports, with defenseman Shawn Lalonde and forward Brandon Kozun both signing up.

Related clubs

Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
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