The Scoring Struggle. 5 Thoughts 2020 Women’s U18 D1B World Championship

Coming into this hockey year, I predicted that both of the Polish women’s team would be able to earn promotion during 2020. Poland’s U18 team had a roster that featured almost everyone returning from the previous year. The key players were taking more huge steps in their careers and gaining valuable experience. My prediction did not occur, as Poland struggled to generate any offense during the tournament. On the final day, the offense would explode with five goals to keep Poland from being relegated. It was the best Poland played all-tournament, but how did the rest of the tournament go?

Attack on Titans

There was a huge size difference in this tournament for Poland. Going by average height, Poland was the second smallest team in this tournament. It was very noticeable at times as taller opponents were just able to push through Polish defenders. It is something that Poland can’t really fix either. It was by no means the disadvantage that lost Poland games, but it was certainly a big hurdle.

Standout Schramm

Iga Schramm made her fourth and final appearance for the Polish U18 squad and she did fantastic. She recorded two goals and two assists, which tied Sikorska for the team lead. She looked very confident rushing the puck and had a solid shot. Schramm was second on team Poland in shots with 21. The Poznan center was great in the faceoff draw as well. Schramm appears to be another solid piece towards Poland’s future.

Best In Net. Best My Chemical Romance Song.

Helena Grzybowska had an absolute standout performance in net. She faced the second-most shots in the tournament and finished with the second-highest save percentage at .948. She kept Poland in every single game of this tournament and absolutely proved that Sass is not Poland’s only goalie capable of starting. Every part of her game was impressive.

Sikorska’s Off Tournament

Wiktoria Sikorska served as captain for Poland at this tournament. It was obvious to anyone watching that she was the best player on the ice for Poland. In her first trip to the U18s she had five points, last year she had ten points, this year only four points. In a tournament, where Poland needed scoring badly their best player did not produce as expected. Sikorska will be able to represent Poland at one more U18 tournament next year.

[highlights] GREAT BRITAIN - POLAND 1_5

A Moral Victory

I don’t believe in moral victories in sports. This tournament was as close as they come through in my opinion. Poland took Austria to overtime and battled hard with Norway.

This team and sport is making progress in Poland. Their performances are getting better and better by a wide margin every year. They played so well defensively that if they were just a fraction better on offense we would be talking about Poland’s first gold medal team of the 2019-20 season.

Quick Thoughts

– This was one of the best defensive performances by any Polish team in recent memory. They were very good limiting at high danger chances.

– Julia Zielinska had some ups and downs this tournament, but her highs showed why she is the future of Poland on defense

– Ida Talanda has some potential and could make for an interesting prospect.

– eight departures from the team are coming, most of them having spent two or three tournaments on the U18 squad. Both goalies are also leaving. This will be a really different team next year and Poland women’s hockey will hopefully show a lot of growth.

If you want to keep up with all the news, make sure to follow us on Twitter  @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

Top Ten in Polish Hockey With The Most To Prove in 2020

The final day of 2019 is here, and it has been up and down and down year for Polish hockey. The upsides have been on the women’s side, young talent, and the PHL becoming a much more competitive league. The downsides have been on the Men’s senior team and continued backstage messes and drama. We had an article on New Year’s Eve looking at who had the best years in 2019, but today lets look at who needs to rebound after some rough patches in 2019.

Honorable Mentions: Cracovia Krakow, Kasper Bryniczka, Michael Luba, Patrik Spesny, and Risto Dufva

10. Ernest Bochnak

Bochnak saw himself left off an IIHF Polish junior squad once again. He made the Polish U18 squad in his first season of eligibility. He has yet to make a roster since, and his time is up. It is shocking to me that he was never able to get on a roster after his initial U18 appearance, where he recorded three goals and one assist. This year he was able to play professional games in both the second and third Czech leagues. Bochnak is an outstanding junior player, and he’ll find himself on a senior roster, I’m sure of it.

9. Patryk Wronka

Wronka had an outstanding 2018-19 season in the PHL and used that to sign in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) with the Belfast Giants. The highly skilled player got off to a hot start recording two goals and one assist in six Champion League Hockey games, as well as six assists in seven EIHL Cup games. That production did not carry into the regular season, and he only recorded eight points (4-4-8) in 24 games before mutually parting ways with the Giants. Now Wronka has a fresh start with Rapaces deGap of the Synerglace Ligue Magnus. In his first three games in the French league, he has four goals and one assist. Wronka is insanely talented, the EIHL just wasn’t a fit for him. In 2020 he needs to prove that.

8. Jacek Szopinski

Jacek Szopinski has been the head coach of both Orlik Opole and Naprzod Janow over the past two years. These clubs are complete clown shows. Both teams are very uncompetitive. Now Szopinski is not responsible for their financial situation. He is responsible for lying to players, bashing players to other coaches and teams, as well as being regarded as a difficult coach to deal with. Szopinski simply needs to shape up and act like a coach should or get out of the PHL.

7. Zaglebie Sosnowiec

Zaglebie Sosnowiec showed a lot of promise last year in their first season back in the PHL after two final losses in the second league. This year with a full offseason to prepare, they signed the big Russian trio that propelled KH Torun to a strong season. The Russian trio has not been able to replicate their production, and some young players did not take as big of steps that were needed. Now going into 2020, they sit just above Janow in the standings. If the team doesn’t improve, a lot of big changes are going to be needed.

6. Sebastian Lipinski

Sebastian Lipinski looked to have the title of Poland’s best goaltending prospect on lock. In 2018, he had a great performance at the U20 World Championship and led PZHL u23 to their first win. In 2019, he had a disastrous U20 World Championship run and endured an up and down PHL year. His 2019 does include two shutouts as well as some flashes of brilliance in the net. Lipinski has to become more consistent in 2020.

5. Patryk Wysocki 

I had Wysocki ranked as my sixteenth best U23 Polish player to end last year. The Belarusian born defensemen had been able to play professionally in Belarus and Poland, while also appearing in the top Russian junior league the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL). This year he started in the MHL once again with the Chinese junior club but left his team after playing only ten games and receiving very limited ice time. His final game in China took place in October. Wysocki wouldn’t play another hockey game till December when he popped up in the BeNe League, a lower European league composed of teams from Belgium and the Netherlands. There he has two points in four games. It is an odd choice for him, and there isn’t enough information to guess a reason why his season has gone as it has, but he still remains one of Poland’s most developed defensive players for his age.

4. Piotr Sarnik 

Piotr Sarnik led the U20 team to a poor performance at the 2019 Division 1B U20 World Championships, but that wasn’t even his biggest challenge at the time. Risto Dufva left GKS Katowice in November to take a job in Finland, leaving behind a GKS Katowice that had not lived up to expectations. Sarnik is now tasked with giving a team identity that doesn’t have one in a PHL that is more competitive than ever. It is going to be quite a challenge for the young coach.

3. GKS Katowice

As mentioned in the last entry, Katowice is supposed to be up there with GKS Tychy. In the past seasons, they seemed to just always be one step behind GKS Tychy. This year GKS Katowice already has as many regulation losses as they did in the last two seasons combined. The season has also been very hard injury-wise with only eight players managing to play all 32 games so far this year. Katowice also released Radosław Sawicki early in the year, and Sawicki currently sits seventh in league scoring. Before the new year, Martin Cakajik left the team after two and a half seasons.GKS Katowice is going to need to regroup fast.

2. Men’s Senior Team

After being demoted to D1B for the first time since 2014, it was only expected to be a one year stop. That was not the case as Poland has continually struggled during 2019, never once show any signs of promise. 2019 saw more players retire or currently suspend their national team career. The team’s depth has taken quite the hit with younger talents not being ready to jump in. They’ll have two big chances at the Olympics Qualifiers and D1B World Championships to prove this team and staff have potential. If neither chances are successful drastic actions will have to be taken.

1. Tomek Valtonen

Simply put, it is sink or swim time. Everything that was a pro about Valtonen never came to fruition. There is some blame on both the coach and the PZHL. What he can control though, he has done poorly, so either win or leave time.

The Ten Best Polish Hockey Years of 2019

The final day of 2019 is here, and it has been up and down and down year for Polish hockey. The great signs have been on the women’s side, young talent, and the PHL becoming a much more competitive league. The downsides have been on the Men’s senior team and continued backstage messes and drama. We will have an article on New Year’s day looking at who needs to improve in 2020, but today lets look at who had the best 2019.

Honorable Mentions: Bartlomiej Neupauer, Filip Stopinski, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, Kamila Wieczorek, KH Torun, Noureddine Bettahar, and Radoslaw Sawicki.

10. Damian Kapica

Kapica was a dominant offensive force at the top of the Cracovia Krakow line up in 2019. The Nowy Targ native currently sits 5th in PHL scoring for the 2019-20 season. He added in an explosive performance at the World Championship, including a five-goal game against Ukraine. It was one of the best performances by a Polish player in World Championship history.

9. Kamil Walega

Kamil Walega just capped off his 2019 with a superb performance at the 2019 Division 1B U20 World Championship with 11 points (6-5-11) in 5 games. He was also able to make his senior national team debut in 2019. In the PHL, Walega had become a significant part of the JKH GKS Jastrzebie offense with 17 points (5-12-17) in 20 games.

8. Wiktoria Sikorska

Sikorska has continued to cement herself as the future face of women’s hockey in Poland. In 2019, she was the best forward at the D1B U18s with seven goals and three assists in five games. She then went on to make her senior IIHF debut at just 16-years-old. The sky is the limit for Sikorska, and her season in the top Czech women’s league has proved that as she sits ninth in league scoring with nine points (1-8-9) in four games.

7. Unia Oswiecim

The 2018-19 season saw a rough start for the blue and white. The team finished eighth in the league, their worst finish since 2009-10. This year though, they were back with a vengeance. The team was one of the most skilled teams the PHL has seen in a while, all spearheaded by new Slovenian head coach Nik Zupancic. The club currently sits fourth in the PHL and made it to the finals of the Polish Cup after defeating GKS Tychy in the opening round.

6. Julia Zielinska 

Julia Zielinska is one of the most active Polish players on social media, and she definitely has a career worth following. The talented 15-year-old defensemen became the first female Polish player to play at a top senior level in Finland and the second male or female. She has spent most of the season with Kiekko-Espoo Akatemia in the Metsis recording one assist in tens games. Zielinska is on a quick path to being the best female defenseman in Polish hockey history.

5. Pawel Zygmunt

The big 6’3 forward took a big step in his hockey career after a successful try-out with HC Litvinov of the Tipsports Extraliga. He and Aron Chmielewski are the only two Polish players in the league. Zygmunt was able to score in his debut match and also recorded three points in the second Czech league. Zygmunt has also been a member of various Polish senior teams and could be in line to make his senior IIHF debut this year. He also scored the game-winning double-overtime goal last season to send Cracovia Krakow to the PHL finals.

4. GKS Tychy

The big dog of Polish hockey has continued their strong reign with back to back PHL championships. Not to mention they are once again at the top of the table for the 2019-20 season with 70 points. They have appeared to find another stud North American with Polish roots in Christian Mroczkowski. They set a new record for points by a Polish club in the Champions Hockey League with 4. This includes a victory over Austria’s Viena Capitals and taking Alder Mannheim of the DEL to overtime. The PHL continues to improve, and GKS Tychy is the team leading the charge. They also won the first-ever Champions Hockey League marketing award. Props to the team behind the team.

3. Alan Łyszczarczyk

The Ontario Hockey League belonged to Alan Łyszczarczyk after his midseason trade to the Missauaga Steelheads. Despite the Steelheads trading away many of their top players, Łyszczarczyk was one of the players that stepped up to get the Steelheads to the postseason. He finished the season with 82 points (39-42-82), setting new career highs in every category and finishing 19th in the league for points. Łyszczarczyk put up a goal and three assists for Poland at the World Championships as well. His strong play during the 2018-19 season earned a deal with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL, as well as an invite to training camp with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL). Łyszczarczyk has been a star for the Komets posting 27 points (11-16-27) in 28 games, which is third among rookies in the ECHL. There is a strong chance his first AHL call-up should be coming soon.

2. Women’s Hockey in Poland 

It has been a big year for the growth of women’s hockey in Poland. Both the senior and U18 team played very well at their international tournaments with promotion being a possible goal for both 2020 tournaments. Those 2020 tournaments will also both be hosted in Poland. On top of that, the team continues to make more strides and there is a goal of an official U16 squad. The most significant addition to Polish women’s hockey this year was the women’s national team joining the Elite Women’s Hockey League. The club currently has a 3-6-1 record. The Silesia Brackens have stayed competitive in every game. The future of women’s hockey in Poland is very bright.

1. Jakub Lewandowski

The prospect of the year for Poland is easily Jakub Lewandowski after being a controversial late cut from Poland U20’s team in 2018, he continued his offensive excellence in the top Czech junior league finishing with 48 points (22-26-48) in 44 games. He was able to turn that into a chance to play in the top junior league in the United States. Lewandowski got off to a scorching start in the United States Hockey League (USHL) but has cooled down a bit since. He currently has five goals and five assists in 22 games. This earned him a C ranking, meaning a player viewed as a late-round NHL draft pick, on the NHL preliminary players to watch list. Lewandowski has a great chance to become the first Polish player drafted since Marcin Kolusz was taken by the Minnesota Wild in 2003.

If you want to keep up with all the news, make sure to follow us on Twitter  @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

No Defense Allowed. 5 Thoughts 2019 U20 D1B World Championship

This year the U20 team was packed with plenty of offensive talent highlighted by NHL Draft hopeful Jakub Lewandowski. The team possessed a very young defense that had a lot of returning players. The goaltending duo had impressed last year and even if they did half as well Poland looked have promotion secured on paper. Of the three units, only one of them was able to live up to their expectations. The offense did great while the defense and goaltending suffered. As a disclaimer, I was only able to watch a handful of games, which brings us right to the first thought.

Sorry Excuse for Streams

About a month before this tournament, Ukraine hosted a four-nation U20 tournament. All of those games were streamed on Youtube in okay quality. This year Ukraine originally only planned to stream Ukraine games on Facebook. In the end, random select games received very poor quality streams that appeared to be shot on a camera from the early 1990s. This comes at a time when there is a lot of criticism the IIHF has received for the lack of quality streams.

Streams for tournaments are decided by the host federation and them alone for most tournaments. IIHF senior world championships seem to be the only exception for that. It should be a requirement though for hosting a tournament that the host is able to provide quality streams for the tournament. For these junior players especially this is the most exposure they will get and a great chance to gain film. In a perfect world, these streams would be handled by the IIHF and streamed on their Youtube channel.

Put In The Third String

Poland’s goaltending was very disappointing in this tournament. The duo of Sebastian Lipinski and Maciej Miarka both played poor in their appearances. Of goaltenders to appear in at least 40% of their teams total minutes, Lipinski finished dead last with a .819 save percentage. Back up goalie Miarka posted a .775 save percentage in his limited time. While one tournament is not the end-all for everything, Poland’s goaltending future does not seem as secure as once believed.

An NHL Draft Worthy Performance

Jakub Lewandowski was a stud in this tournament and put in the performance one would hope with his resume. This tournament was his and he put up 13 points to lead the entire tournament in scoring. Lewandowski proved he is a step above all other Polish talents. He was off to a hot start in the United States Hockey League, but cooled off. Hopefully, the U20 World Championship will help bring back his early-season production.

JL gif.gif 

Bieniek’s Breakthrough

In my limited viewing, Szymon Bieniek was Poland’s most impressive defenseman. He has the two-way game to thrive at both ends. I think he has a very good chance to be Poland’s best defensemen since Pawel Dronia. He has excelled in the states being named both a player of the month and to the NAPHL all-star game.

Sarnik’s Second Chance

Poland’s U20 team head coaches usually have two to three years reigns. Jaroslaw Morawiecki had three seasons at the helm, Andrei Parfenov lasted two years at the top, Torbjörn Johansson led the team for three, then David Leger just had one year. This was Sarnik’s second chance at leading the team and he now has led them to their worse finish this century. The U20 team needs a new coach and Poland should bring in a foreign coach to aid with that development. I don’t believe Poland currently has a coach that can develop talent to higher levels and produce results.

Quick Thoughts

– Klaudiusz Libik’s lack of experience seems to be catching up with him in his development. He remains one of Poland’s best defensive prospects though.

– Kamil Walega maybe the best offensively talented player developed in Poland in the last few years

– There were plenty of special offensive players in this tournament. All of Damian Tyczynski, Igor Smal, Jakub Blanik, Maciej Witan, and Sebastian Brynkus deserve a lot of praise.

– As is custom for almost every tournament. Too many penalties. Poland ranked second in the tournament with 75.

If you want to keep up with all the news, make sure to follow us on Twitter  @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

2019 Poland U20 World Championship Roster Prediction

Recently the U20 National team revealed their roster for the final grouping before the U20 World Championship in Ukraine from December 12th to the 18th. This year the U20 team has had an interesting journey to the World Championship. Poland U20 is going to be very young this year and has tried out a few combinations for lines and rosters. In the past few years, Poland has not been able to earn promotion despite talents like Alan Łyszczarczyk, Bartomiej Jeziorski, Dominik Pas, and others leading the team. This year Poland u20 may have their biggest star in a while as potential NHL draft pick Jakub Lewandowski could represent the team. Adam Kiedewicz is not listed on the roster, and this cast doubt on him ever representing Poland again in his career. Today we make our picks though on what players will be on the ice in red and white for the U20 World Championship.

Forwards

Kamil Walega- Jan Soltys – Jakub Lewandowski

Damian Tyczynski – Igor Smal  – Ernest Bochnak

Jakub Prokurat – Konrad Filipek – Maciej Witan

Jan Krzyzek – Kacper Gruzla – Mateusz Ubowski

Extra: Mateusz Bezwinski

This offense has a lot of talent. The top line could honestly rival the Alan Łyszczarczyk, Bartomiej Jeziorski, and Dominik Pas line that torn up the U20 World Championships a couple years ago. Walega and Lewandowski may be a bit one dimensional at times, but Soltys plays a complete game that will really benefit the line. It won’t be needed much, though, as this line will continuously be driving offense. The second line brings a lot of unique experiences and offensive potential. All three players have excelled in different places, Tyczynski tore up junior leagues in Slovakia, Igor Smal has been impressive at the senior level in Poland, while Bochnak has earned professional chances in the Czech Republic. The bottom lines still provide a lot of solid depth, size, and a chance at production. Bottom six production is something that Poland has been missing for a long time.

Defensemen

Szymon Bieniek – Klaudiusz Libik

Patryk Gosztyla – Armen Khoperia

Adrian Duszak- Michal Narog

Extra: Bartosz Florczak

There were not too many tough choices here, and there are four returners to the roster on defense. The defense lacked two big things experience and production last year. Everyone is now a year older and should have gained plenty of experience. While the production remains to be seen. Bieniek, Libik, and Narog can all make a significant impact on the offensive end. Florczak is included as my extra because of that. The 16-year-old is very talented and could provide offensively if needed. Libik and Bieniek have a chance to be two of the best defensemen ever for Poland, though the bar is pretty low. Poland has never had outstanding offensive defensemen, with Pawel Dronia being the highlight of this decade. Libik and Bieniek could change that.

Goalies

Sebastian Lipinski

Maciej Miarka

The same goaltending duo as last year and no need to change it. Lipinski is the best junior goalie that Poland has, and Miarka isn’t far behind. Lipinski had a great showing at the U20 World Championship last year, while Miarka put on a show at the U18 World Championships. I would expect Lipinski to play four of the games, but Miarka to get at least one.

Conclusion

This team has a lot of potential. They could be the team that earns Poland promotion after four straight silver medals. The group has a lot of speed and skill. They are going to be able to outsmart their opponent and dictate how the game is played. This is a very young squad, and if the defense falters, it could be disastrous for the team. Lipinski posted a .938% last year for Poland and that still wasn’t enough. Poland really needs the defense to stop opponents from getting high danger chances and providing some help on offense.

If you want to keep up with all the news, make sure to follow us on Twitter  @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

Poland and Professional Wrestling

Right now wrestling is going through a boom period. There are multiple mid-level promotions gaining popularity in the United States with Ring of Honor, Impact, and Major League Wrestling.  Then there New Japan Professional Wrestling’s American expansion and a very hot indie scene. That is not even mentioning the top level where for the first time in over a decade the largest promotion in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has competition in the form of All Elite Wrestling.

Polish hockey has a lot of similarities to professional wrestling. Both are filled with a lot of behind the scenes drama, sketchy financials, and are scripted. Today though, we look at Poland’s connections to professional wrestling overall.

Polish Promotions

While the WWE has made a few appearances in Poland in the form of their live shows, Poland wouldn’t have their own wrestling promotion til Do or Die Wrestling (DoDW). DoDW was started by American wrestler Don Roid. Roid had been wrestling in Germany when he meant a Polish girl who later became his wife. Roid moved to Poland full time in 2005. Four years later in 2009, he started DoDW.

In an interview with Vice, Roid talked about the beginning of DoDW, “I moved here in 2005 to be with my wife, but that didn’t stop me from walking into the ring. I started performing around Europe—mainly in France, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. It took me four years to create Do or Die Wrestling, the first Polish federation, and at the same time the first wrestling school in Eastern Europe.”

“I’m not sure Polish people understand what pro wrestling is. Their history is full of wars; they were always engaged in a battle with someone—so the very idea of fighting, even for sport, is a very serious deal to them. In general, as a nation, they are very serious. Americans can chill out a bit. We understand that this is just entertainment. It’s still a sport, as everything that happens in the ring hurts quite a lot, but it’s strictly for the enjoyment of the audience”

Given the uniqueness of their product, Roid thought that DoDW would be an instant hit, but alas that did not happen, “I thought that people would go crazy about it, considering there had never been anything like it in Poland before. I thought that teenagers would want to sign up for training and then join the federation. I was wrong. But I still managed to create a Polish wrestling team that not only performs here but also fights abroad.

DoDW would later earn a valuable addition in Joe E. Legend. Legend was a longtime professional wrestler with experience in the WWE, Pro Wrestling Noah, and various international promotions. In DoDW he was a valuable trainer for many young Polish wrestlers and even held the DoDW international belt at one point.

IC Belt

DoDW would close their doors in 2015 after six years of bouts. It wouldn’t be the end of wrestling in Poland though, as another promotion had sprouted in the country.

Maniac Zone Wrestling (MZW) was created in 2014 by former Don Roid trainees Shadow and Jedrus “The Polish Hammer” Bulecka. Polish Puck reached out to Shadow to learn more about his promotion. “Maniac Zone Wrestling was created 5 years ago by two guys: Me and Jędruś “The Polish Hammer” Bułecka. At the beginning it was so hard to take ‘something big for us’ but right now we a are strong polish wrestling promotion.

On what fans could expect to see out of MZW, “Well..the MZW is based on colorful and interesting characters and also we have a wrestlers with so many styles. We likes effective and spectacular fights here.” Then also on the goals of MZW and the future of professional wrestling in Poland, “The current goal for us is to make our promotion bigger and bigger. We want wrestling in Poland to become popular cause right now it’s not… I think that every year there are more and more wrestling fans so we have to keep going and do what we can do the best.

Kombat Pro Wrestling (KPW) would rise from the ashes of DoDW. They would be formed in October of 2015 and had their debut show, KPW vs The World: Hung(a)ry for Power, on November 14th in Gdansk. The debut show was ran with Hungarian Championship Wrestling.

Since then the promotion has continued to grow. Just like their first show international talent has continued to be brought in to mix with their Polish wrestlers. This includes WWE talent Primate.

Polish Wrestlers

Both KPW and MZW are filled with Polish talent, but not much Polish talent has traveled outside the country to reach the biggest stages yet. In the early 20th century, wrestling was filled with Polish immigrants to the states. The first of these wrestlers was Stanislaus Zbyszko. Zbysko had established himself as one of the top Greco-Roman style wrestlers in Europe. Zbysko eventually came over to the states and put on some fantastic matches including an hour-long draw with legend Frank Gotch. Wrestling at this time was more of a real sport but shifting into more of a shoot. Zbysko was still able to claim the World Heavy Weight Championship twice including a 1925 match, where Zbysko turned a worked match into a real one and repeatedly pinned former football player Wayne Munn til being awarded the title in a match Munn was booked to win. Zybsko is regarded as one of the best legitimate wrestlers of all time, and another legend in the business, Larry Zbyszko, adopted his last name as a tribute.

The most interesting of these early wrestlers was Polish Strongman Stanley Radwan. The Krakow native was incredibly strong and some of his feats seem unbelievable. He was able to pull cars with his teeth and remained undefeated in wrestling for 20 years.

stanleyradwan-brokenhorseshoe.jpg

One of the most famous stories is about an event that took place at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the same concentration camp that Anne and Margot Frank spent their final days. Radwan was captured during the Nazi Germany invasion of Poland. Radwan attempted to escape the camp by pushing over a brick wall. The news of the feat attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler. Per Ohio Magzine, Hitler ordered Radwan to put on a show for him and some other Nazi leaders. Radwan refused and then was meant with a gun pointed at his head, where he promptly bit the gun chamber closed. After the war, Radwan immigrated to the United States and began his strongman and wrestling career.

Stanislaus Zbyszko’s younger brother Wladek was also a wrestler. Wladek Zybszko was a two-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion and wrestled from the early 1910s and into the 1950s. Another notable Polish wrestler from this time was Abe Coleman. Coleman was never a championship wrestler but is credited with the invention of the dropkick. Coleman wrestling from 1928 to 1958. The Lodz native was described as a solid mid-card worker and is believed to be the only wrestler to live to be over 100 years old.

Since the end of the pioneer era in wrestling, there have not been many big Polish wrestlers. Ivan Putski is the biggest name since the early days. Putski was a tag team specialist winning tag team gold in Big Time Wrestling, Southwest Championship Wrestling, and the World Wrestling Federation. He was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995.

The most recent Polish wrestler to make it big in wrestling is Babatunde Aiyegbusi. The Wroclaw native was originally an American football player. Babatunde was a star offensive linemen in the Polish American Football League. His strong in Poland earned him a chance with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League. He was released after three preseason games. In April 2016, he signed with WWE as apart of their performance center. Babatunde appeared in some large multi-man matches before making his singles debut on January 14th, 2017. The 6’10 355lbs wrestler is quite the monster and has been booked as since winning almost 80% of his matches since debuting.

Wrestlers with Polish Heritage

There are also plenty of people that have stepped into the squared circle with Polish heritage. Plenty of Hall of Famers and former champions.

Debut – Ring Name – Notable Career Achievement

1947 – Killer Kowalski – WWF Hall of Fame 1996

1947- Johnny Valentine – 3x NWA Television Champion

1967- Ole Anderson – 2x AWA Midwest Heavyweight Champion

1970 –  Greg Valentine – WWE Hall of Fame 2004

1986 – Scott Putski – 1x GWF North American Heavyweight Champion

1990 – Rob Van Dam – 1x WWE Champion

2000- Trish Stratus – 7x WWE Women’s Champion

2001 – Beth Phoenix – 3x WWE Women’s Champion

2002 – Chris Masters – 1x Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship (This title was once won by A pint of beer, a cat doll, and various other intimate objects.)

2003 – Velvet Sky – 2x TNA Women’s Knockout Champion

2010 – Jacob Novak – WWE NXT Season 4 contestant

If you want to keep up with all the news, make sure to follow us on Twitter  @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

Losses to France and Four Nations Tournament Show Growth and Massive Steps Left for Women’s Hockey in Poland

The Women’s U18 team was quite busy the last few weeks playing three exhibition games against France, along with competing in a four nations cup tournament in Great Britain. Against a much stronger French opponent, Poland did drop all three of their games with a goal differential of -11 for Poland. In the Four Nations tournaments against competition in Poland’s range, they finished second after losing to Great Britain on the final day of the tournament. They will have a rematch against the British U18 team in just a couple months at the IIHF U18 Division 1 Group B World Championships.

The games against France were a massive test for the Polish squad. This U18 team has a couple of big names on the roster with Wiktoria Sikorska and Julia Zielinska leading the charge. Sikorska is the future of the Polish national team and has a chance in the next couple of years to be considered the best women’s player in Poland. Julia Zielinska is a defenseman that is mature beyond her years. She turns 15 in December and already plays in the second-best senior league in Finland. They are players that are more than ready and able to take on France with ease compared to the rest of the Polish roster.

This tournament was a good way to see who Poland has after them that has the potential to really make those next big steps. In total Poland lost all three games, but really kept two of them competitive. The first meeting was a three to nothing defeat, while the second was four to one. The final game was a six to one loss. These games showed that Poland could stay competitive with a team like France though. France is ranked tenth in the IIHF Women’s rankings which is a lot higher than Poland at 22. They are also in the division above 1B. If Poland were to earn a promotion, France is a team they could possibly play.

When a team gets promoted in international hockey there is always a concern on how they will actually fare in that division. A lot of times that team is quickly dispatched besides one game against the other bottom-dwelling team. France has been that team in Division 1A. Despite the division’s short history, they have been relegated once already and it took them two tries to return to Division 1A. There is a large gap between Division 1A and 1B where Poland resides. If France is still a big task for Poland the rest of D1A should be considered massive challenges.

The Four Nations Tournament was a more evenly balanced tournament for Poland. In fact, they were the highest-ranked team in the tournament. I should note that IIHF rankings are for the senior division only, but I do believe they’re a solid indication of the junior divisions. Most of the time they almost match the senior rankings exactly. Despite Poland being considered the favorite it was not an easy weekend for the Eagles.

The first game saw Poland take on a U20 Iceland squad. Iceland does not a women’s U18 team, so they brought a u20 squad. This was probably to the benefit of everyone in the tournament as it gave them a much more competitive roster. That said Poland was still able to beat them easily seven to one. Iceland is only ranked 32nd in the World and this was by far the easiest opponent in the tournament for Poland. With that in mind, I was hoping to see more production out of players outside of the top lines on Poland produce, but it was mostly the Sikorska and Zielinska show.

The second game of the tournament saw Poland take on Spain. Spain is in the division right below Poland. They played a very well structured game. They have been on the outskirts of Division 1B for the past few seasons never winning promotion in the qualifying games, but a growing program and I expect they’ll be able to finally earn promotion to Division 1B this year. The game saw Poland mostly have control and lead three to nothing after two periods. They didn’t stay aggressive though and collapsed in the third period allowing Spain to make a comeback. In the end, Poland had to take it to the shootout to get the win. The biggest takeaway from this game is a learning experience. These players can’t just hold on to a lead against any opponent. They need to keep their game up for all three periods.

The final game is the most interesting as Poland will have that rematch with Great Britain at the D1B U18 IIHF Championship in January. Poland held a two-goal lead in this game at one point, but would allow four unanswered goals that gave Great Britain the four to two win. Poland did win the shot advantage and played well, but what killed the team were some costly turnovers and penalties. I would say three of Great Britain’s goals could have been completely avoided if not for Polish mistakes.

This is how players learn though. Poland didn’t play poorly in any of these games, there were just mistakes that can and should be corrected. Across the six games, Sikorska showed that she is the real deal with three goals and six assists. Julia Zielinka also played well at both ends and recorded three goals and five assists. The top two players were there and produced. The team after them though is the concern. Maja Blaszkow was able to stand out and scored four goals in the six games, including a hattrick against Iceland. Karolina Baran provided some solid production and strong play. Goaltending was fine, but nothing overly special.

These tournaments showed that Poland is a very competitive team that can play aggressive. They’re going dictate how the game is played. There are correctable mistakes that should go away with more experience. The bigger problem facing Poland right now though is the lack of depth. The depth is steadily improving but not as fast as Poland is producing top players. There are large gaps of skill in Poland’s own roster. That gap can go both ways as top players can keep them in a game they have no business being in, but also have them lose games they have no reason to lose. There is a lot to like about the future of the women’s team, but massive steps still need to be taken.

If you want to keep up with all the news, make sure to follow us on Twitter  @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.