Lindy Ruff was happy when he won the Coach of the Year Trophy in Season 3 when he was with the Edinburgh Capitals, and it was probably a joy to hold the same trophy this year as coach of the Minsk Hussars, but he seemed downright giddy when he raised the EURO Cup for the cheering crowd that gathered near the Hero City Steeple in Masherov-Pobediteley a few days after the Cup Finals.
After nearly being blowing a 3-0 games lead in the Northern Conference finals against Belfast, the Hussars made short work of the Paris Rouge Eiffels to sweep the league Finals in four games.
Center Jordan Staal scored a point in every game of the Finals series and had a total of 6 points. Minsk outshot Paris in every game with an overall advantage of 146-88. The powerplay clicked 7 times (once against an empty net) in 19 tries for Minsk.
The season was a legendary one for Ruff, the Hussars and General Manager Igor Kirunov. Leading the way on the ice was Nicklas Backstrom, the captain of the team and the league’s best scorer. Backstrom led the league in goals (51), assists (77) and points (128), winning trophies as the EURO’s Best Defensive Forward and Best Player (MVP) along the way. He also scored more goals and points than anyone else in the playoffs.
Milan Lucic and Patrick Kane were Backstrom’s wings. Each scored 101 points during the regular season and Kane finished at the top of the EURO’s plus-minus list at plus 62.
The top defense pairing was Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonoagh. Del Zotto, winner of the league’s version of the Norris Trophy, led all defensemen in goals (23), assists (46), points (69) and plus-minus (+57).
Carey Price kept the trophy parade going as the league’s best goalie. He finished with a 2.12 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.
The supporting cast in Minsk was obviously top-notch, as the team finished the season with a record of 70-8-4, 21 points ahead of the next best team.