Belarus leagues system undergoes major changes

Belarus leagues system undergoes major changes

Davide Tuniz08 Jun 2021Davide Tuniz»
 

A new Extraliga and Vysshaya League are born aiming to increase competitiveness

 
 
 
 

The recent poor performance of Belarus national team at World Championship confirms the need for a reform of the domestic leagues: with this goal the Federation completely changes the structure of professional hockey in the country, starting from upcoming season.

EXTRALIGA

The main change in the 2021/22 season is the return, after three years, to the format of a single championship without subdivision into leagues A and B. The creation of two divisions at once was dictated, firstly, by the appearance of new clubs on the hockey map of the country, which found it difficult to compete with the regulars of the Extraliga from the very beginning, and then by the increase in the class difference between "big" teams and outsiders, which is why match results were often predictable, and the difference in score often became embarrassing.

PARTECIPANTS: Twelve teams will compete: defending champion Yunost Minsk, silver medallist Gomel, Shakhtar Soligorsk, Metallurg Zhlobin, Dynamo-Molodechno, Neman Grodno, Lokomotiv Orsha and HK Mogilev from last season, new teams are: Khimik Novopolotsk, HK Brest, HK Lida and HC Vitebsk from former Extraliga B

FORMAT: The Extraliga in the 2021/22 season will be held in two stages.At the first stage, all participants will play among themselves in four rounds, after which they will be divided into two groups depending on the occupied places (1-6, 7-12). In this case, the points scored by the teams will be saved. At the second stage, the participants will play 10 more games, but already within their groups, according to the results of which they will determine the seeding in the playoffs, places at the bottom of the table and the four teams that will play in the qualifying round.

The qualifying round is an improved format of the transition matches that were present in the past season.It will feature four teams that took 7th to 10th places at the end of the regular season.In the series of up to two wins, they will determine two more participants in the playoffs of the Extraliga with seeds 7 and 8.

POINTS SYSTEM: Starting from the new season, the Extraliga will have a two-point scoring system: a team is awarded two points for a victory in regulation time, overtime or in shootouts, and one point for a defeat in an additional five-minute or a series of post-match throws.This change will reduce the gap between the participants in the standings.

SALARY CAP: The salary ceiling in the upcoming  season will remain at the level of 100 thousand Belarusian rubles per team, the floor will be 60 thousand. At the same time, the restriction on the maximum monthly salary of one hockey player will be removed, and the basis of financial income for the players should be regulated by bonuses for the results achieved.

ENTRY LIST: The team's application for the match must include at least 18 hockey players, including at least two players under 22 years old and four players under 27 years old (U27).The application for the match can be expanded to 20 hockey players, provided that two additional places are occupied by young players under 20 (U20).

GOALIES: There can be only one foreign goalkeeper in the team's application for both the match and the season.If the goalkeeper takes the position of the limiter (U20, U22), then in order to comply with the regulations, he must spend at least 20 minutes on the ice.

IMPORTS: The number of hockey players who do not have the right to play for the national teams of Belarus in the application of the Extraliga teams from next season will not be strictly limited. However, the presence of such players will oblige the clubs to buy out quotas for them. Moreover, the amount of the contribution will grow exponentially for each new foreigner.

VYSSHAYA LEAGUE

The Vysshaya League will be expanded to 17 teams. Among the participants, along with the farm clubs, were added the clubs from Extraliga B, who failed to fulfill the conditions on the application for the strongest division: Yastreby Pinsk and Aviator Baranovichi.

In addition, the U17 and U18 national teams of Belarus will play in the championship

In the long term, the federation expects that every city in the country where the ice rink has been built will be represented on the league map.

PARTECIPANTS: 17 teams will compete: defending champion Minsk Zubry, runner-up Junior Minsk, Shakhtar-2 Soligorsk, Metallurg-2 Zhlobin, Neman-2 Grodno, HK Bobruisk-2, HK Lida-2, HK Mogilev-2, Khimik-2, Novopolotsk, HK Brest-2, HC Vitebsk-2, HK Gomel-2, Sobol Byaroza, Belarus U17, and Belarus U18, Yastreby Pinsk, Aviator Baranovichi from Extraliga B

FORMAT: The regular season will be held from September 2021 to February 2022, the teams will play 64 matches in a round robin format. Teams ranked from 1st to 4th in the regular season will receive tickets to the playoff quarterfinals. Eight more participants will have to compete for them in the additional qualifying round to two wins. Pairs of opponents at this stage will be determined based on the places occupied by the teams in the regular season

POINTS SYSTEM: As in the Extraliga, the new season will use a two-point scoring system

ENTRY LIST:  A team's entry list may include up to 35 hockey players aged 16 to 20. At the same time, players from the U18 category must be entered only by agreement with the Federation, and no more than five such hockey players are allowed participating in the match. Independent clubs, which are not farms of Extraliga teams, are allowed to use a maximum of five players under the age of 22.

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