GRAND RAPIDS, Mich
. – Griffins defenseman Sergei Kolosov will play for Belarus at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver this month.
Kolosov, who was not named to Belarus’ provisional Olympic roster in December, will depart Grand Rapids on Sunday to join his Belarusian teammates at a training camp in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Detroit’s third draft pick in 2004, Kolosov is in his second season with the Griffins. After posting 11 points and 36 penalty minutes in 70 games during his 2008-09 rookie campaign, the Novopolotsk native has contributed four points in 43 appearances this season.
Under the guidance of Griffins coach Curt Fraser, Kolosov helped Belarus qualify for the Olympics thanks to a ninth-place finish at the 2008 World Championship in Canada. The team, which still includes 19 players who were coached by Fraser in that tournament, will make its first Olympic appearance since the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, when it earned a surprising fourth-place finish.
Belarus will play a pair of exhibition games against Switzerland at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Feb. 9 and Thursday, Feb. 11 before traveling to Vancouver. The team will compete in Group C at the Olympics, with preliminary round games scheduled against Finland (Wednesday, Feb. 17), Sweden (Friday, Feb. 19) and Germany (Saturday, Feb. 20). The qualification round (Feb. 23-24), semifinals (Feb. 26), Bronze Medal Game (Feb. 27) and Gold Medal Game (Feb. 28) will continue through the end of the month, meaning Kolosov could miss as many as 11 Griffins games during his absence.
Kolosov will become just the third player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics as an active Griffin, joining Niklas Kronwall
(2006 Sweden) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). In the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, Kronwall became the first Griffins alumnus to earn an Olympic medal, winning gold thanks to Sweden’s victory over Finland in the championship game.
Three of the other 11 men’s hockey teams will be counting on former Griffins in their medal quests. Kronwall (2003-06) and Stefan Liv (2006-07), who also won gold with Sweden in 2006, will look to repeat, while Slovakia’s Pavol Demitra (1996-97) and Tomas Kopecky (2002-06) and Finland’s Valtteri Filppula
(2005-07) will try to dethrone the defending champs.