This post has been hanging out in my drafts for over a year. I visited Belarus in September 2015.
That also means I’ve lost every photo except the one you see!
After three months in Europe I hadn’t watched any live sport (streaming online, yes, please). This required fixing.
In Belarus, ice hockey is the national game and the boss man of Belarus, Lukashenko, is an ice hockey fanatic, playing a couple times a week himself. Time to go see a game in person I guess.
After some Googling I found a game at the Ice Palace in Molodechno, 80km from Minsk. The game was to be played between HC Molodechno Dinamo and Mogilev at 7 pm in two days time. Never heard of the teams?
Neither had I.
RELATED POST: EXPERIENCING ICE HOCKEY IN RUSSIA
I remember back in the day heading into the rugby on the train from Waikanae to Wellington. The train would be full people of all ages would be decked out in yellow and black Hurricanes supporter kit. The kids with face paint and adults with make up all over their face (some drunk).
The train to Mododechno was not the same. I was likely the only one heading to the game as Minsk wasn’t playing.
I got lost trying finding the stadium. As the national sport, I expected to see fans decked out in supporter gear strutting towards the stadium with loud obnoxious voices (even if they didn’t catch the train). This wasn’t reality again. I found myself running around asking people ‘Ice Palace?’ while showing them a picture from Google as my language skills are amateur.
Eventually I got lucky and was 2 km away from the stadium.
The Ice Palace is a dramatic name and other than a few people with Dinamo hats in the crowd didn’t scream loyalty.
I missed the first few minutes of the game, greeting the Dinamo mascot on the way through.
Mogilev were on the front foot (skate?) early but Dinamo scored against momentum and the cheerleaders sent their pom-poms into a frenzy. My age guessing skills, like my lack of the non-English language. I had no idea if the cheerleaders were 16 or 26. I kept it low key in a bid to not appear to be the creepy foreigner caught on camera staring at them, much.
The crowd was most definitely one-sided with the Dinamo. It appears few people travel intercity to follow their team (a norm). After all the league apparently only exists because of Lukashenko who funds the player’s wages – apparently. Gotta give him credit, he loves the sport!
After the 1st half 80%+ of the crowd got up to get food, drinks and do their business. I’ll never understand why more people don’t get up a few minutes before a break in play to avoid the massive crowds and pee without having to desperately hold on. I stayed in my seat, watching some kids fumble around on the ice during the 15-minute break with the Molodechno Dinamo cruising along at 3-0.
The quality of the ice hockey in Belarus seemed reasonably high to me (definitely not an expert), no one making obvious blunders. It is satisfying watching hockey live with the ability to see the puck whereas on the TV you follow the players rather than the puck.
The next period got underway and more or less everyone had returned to their seats. Despite only a 1.50€ difference in price between the nosebleeds and rinkside seats (the best), most were in the nosebleeds. Are they the better seats? Where the top of the plastic surrounding the rink doesn’t interfere with your eye line.
The game carried on, the crowd were still roaring after every goal as the Molodechno Dinamo got better and better reaching 7-0 .
As the last period begun I went out back to see the facilities. There was some face painting. Which I declined. Drunk Jub would say yes. I checked out the food and drinks situation, Kvass was the only alcoholic beverage available and with the yeasty bread having an alcohol level of 0.5% no one is getting drunk at this game. Chips? 0.35€. This is the cheapest pro sports event I’ve been to that’s for sure.
At one stage, Dinamo had two players in the naughty corner during final few minutes but still finished with a final scoreline 10-2.
Afterwards, everyone streamed out of the Ice Palace like any other sport. By the time I got to the train station, it was clear of the 1,200~ crowd, I was the only one who had made the journey from Minsk specifically for the game. Where’s my medal?
Related Post: Things to do in Belarus
Where To Find Out When Games Are On?
I found out about the games on this site. There seems to be a game every few days during the season. 50,000 rubles (2.50€) got me the best seats in the house and brought the tickets once at the stadium.
Where Is The Ice Palace?
The Ice Palace is around a 30-40 minute walk from the Molodechno train station (also know as Maladziecna).
- GPS Coordinates: 54.301547, 26.865338
- Google Maps Link: here
- If you are using maps.me, search ‘sports center’ and it shall pop up in the results.
How To Get To Molodechno
Check the train timetable here.
The easiest way to get to Molodechno is by train from Minsk Train Station. The game I reached was a 7 pm kickoff, so I caught the 3.35pm train, which got me there at 5.21pm, plenty of time to find the stadium. On my return, I got the 10:14 pm train (missed the 9.56pm train) and got back to Minsk before midnight. An eight-hour return trip? No wonder no one travelled from the city!
Should You Go?
It was an awesome trip, I wish there was more time to explore Molodechno. There seemed to be some cool structures and the walking street leading away from the train station was chill. If you left Minsk around 1pm to head for a 7pm kick off that would be about perfect.
Of course, you could always go to an Ice Hockey game in Belarus at the capital itself, Minsk, which is much more convenient for your tourist activities (most people don’t explore far from Minsk).