Edmonton Oilers blueliner Anton Belov scored for Russia in his Olympic debut today, a 5-2 win over Slovenia. For the 27-year-old defenceman, it had to be a moment to remember. Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe was on hand for the goal.
“It must have been quite the feeling…,” Lowe said. “The score was 3-2 in the third period. Not unlike (Canada’s) game against Norway, I don’t think it appeared that the Russians were too nervous but once they scored a few goals, including Anton’s in the third, I think everyone breathed a little easier.”
Belov’s goal secured a three-goal lead for the Russians in the third period. The moment after he scored, Belov was noticeably excited.
“I didn’t talk to him afterwards, but it was a great shot,” Lowe said. “He was really excited, by his celebration. It’s probably a highlight for him, I’m sure, in his career to score a goal, on his home soil, in the Olympics. I’m sure it will be one of the great memories for him.”
For a player like Belov, in his first season of professional hockey in North America, it is important to build confidence in his game. The transition from KHL to the NHL has been something Belov has been working towards. Lowe talked about that transition and how an experience like the Olympics can help in a player’s development.
“I think overall, although Anton is not a young player, he’s certainly not an old player. But he is young for the NHL. It’s a completely different league than playing over in Europe, the KHL in his case. It’s a longer season, it’s more of a grind, a smaller rink and all of those things. I suspect that this experience for him will help him immensely when he comes back to Edmonton. I’m sure that scoring a goal, and if he continues to play well, will add to his confidence and that should only bode well for our hockey team and in terms of how he’s able to be productive for us when he does come back.”