Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn didn’t make much of an impression at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
The brothers from Belarus played two lacklustre games after travelling to Europe before each having their tournament end abruptly against Canada on Tuesday. Andrei was ejected from the game in the second period for hitting Evander Kane from behind while Sergei skated off a couple minutes later with what the team called a dislocated right shoulder.
Interestingly, the two had connected on a goal in the first period and finally appeared to have some form prior to seeing their event end early.
“I think they started to play for the first time seriously,” said Belarus coach Kari Heikkila. “They scored a beautiful goal. I think you saw that they really wanted to play today.”
The desire of the Kostitsyns had come into question after they arrived in Helsinki just days after their season ended in Nashville. They were both on the ice for three goals against during a 5-1 loss to Slovakia and didn’t make much of an impression in a 2-1 defeat to France.
It’s been a difficult spring for the pair.
Andrei was benched during the playoffs after he and Predators teammate Alex Radulov were caught breaking curfew while Sergei now heads to the off-season with a shoulder injury he suffered in an innocent-looking collision with Canada’s Kris Russell on Tuesday.
Heikkila was willing to cut the brothers some slack for their world championship performance because of how difficult it is to adjust after the NHL season. The Belarus team trained together for six weeks prior to the world championship and the Kostitsyns only had a couple days to try and get comfortable.
“It’s difficult to come over,” said Heikkila. “There’s maybe only a few guys in the NHL who can help the team (after joining) so late.”
He added that in future they may be more reluctant to add players to the mix at the last minute.
At least one teammate came to the defence of the embattled Kostitsyns. Mikhail Grabovski, who has feuded with the pair in the past, believes they did all they could to help an overmatched Belarus team at this tournament.
“It’s not a problem, the Kostitsyns,” said Grabovski. “I think they helped when they came here. I don’t want to say that when they came we stopped playing.
“That’s just not right.”
Belarus finished 14th at the world championship for the second straight year. The country is scheduled to host the tournament in Minsk in 2014.