The U20 World Championships start on December 8th and Poland made their final cuts today, letting Jakub Lewandowski, Mateusz Ubowski, and Adrian Duszak go, along with naming Oskar Prokop the reserve goalie. I expect this to be Poland’s best U20 team in a long time, but early roster cuts and players who were not at camp at all have me concerned. Despite those concerns, there is still a ton of talent on this roster and it is time to take a look at.
Sebastian Lipinski, Jakub Zawalski
Lipinski is my goaltender of choice in this tournament. He has had a great year in the PHL and been a key factor in the much-improved performance of PZHL U23, despite his young age. It is honestly kinda a shock to see Oskar Prokop get relegated to the third goalie given he served as the back up on last year’s U20 team. Jakub Zawalski is a fine choice for the backup spot though.
Grade: A –
Klaudiusz Libik – Olaf Bizacki
Milosz Noworyta – Patryk Wysocki
Patryk Gosztyla – Szymon Bieniek
Scratches: Armen Khoperia
I love the defense on this team. Bizacki, Noworyta, and Wysocki return from last year and it is a good thing, considering all of them were a key piece of last year’s team. The additions are all great players and should be able to move the puck with ease. As someone who has been very critical of Poland’s defense in recent years, this group fills me with hope and I’m excited to see them play.
Dominik Pas – Jan Soltys – Kamil Walega
Damian Tyczynski – Dominik Olszewski – Pawel Tomasz Zygmunt
Lukasz Kaminski – Pawel Oblonski – Jakub Worwa
Szymon Mularczyk – Igor Smal – Adrian Pawel Slowakiewicz
Scratches: Sebastian Brynkus
This group is a bit of a letdown and that because of two guys who are not here; Jakub Lewandowski and Adam Kiedewicz. These two guys are two of the best under 20 players Poland has. Lewandowski is 7th in the top Czech junior league for scoring and Kiedewicz is 3rd in scoring for his German junior league, and has already secured a DEL contract. How these players are not on the roster is amazing to me and really makes me question what is going on. I talked to a Polish player who plays outside of Poland and he told me he felt a strong sense of favoritism to players who stayed in Poland and this may be that. It wouldn’t be the first time team politics played a major role in roster choices. That theory also has flaws though as there are multiple players on the roster who play outside of Poland. They both shoot left handed, but given the fact this team has two players who right handed at all I don’t think that was the problem. They are also both on the younger side at 17 and 18, but the spots they would have held are also held by 17 and 18 years old. Can’t be a size issue as both players are 6 foot 2 inches. Really makes no sense. For the most part, I like the offense. It should still be a strong group. Soltys and Walega will have a great opportunity to shine alongside team leader Dominik Pas. Tyczynski should be able to provide some secondary offense different from last year’s teams which really relied on one line for offense.
Grade: B –
This should still be one of the best U20 teams, Poland has had in a long time, but some odd cuts have me a bit concerned. Some are very little like the backup goalie pick, and if I’m wrong in saying back up it is a bigger problem. A team that could have also dominated offensively is going with a more defensive approach it seems, which I’m not a huge fan of.
Final Grade: B+, for now