This tournament was frustrating to watch and mostly because this was the best Polish team in a while and they never really played up to their potential. They’re walking away with a silver medal, but that isn’t good enough. What went right? What Went Wrong? Welcome to 5 thoughts.
Throw the Defense away
Poland’s defense in this tournament was atrocious. The game plan seemed to just slide around and hope you block the shot. It was awful to watch as forwards would just slice through Poland’s defense like a hot knife through butter. I had a lot of faith in this defense because of their offensive ability, which really didn’t show up too often either. Overall it was a bit disappointing, but the good part is a lot of this group is very young having two or even another left of u20 eligibility, learn from mistakes and come back better next year. Too many times we’re opposing players able to just sit wide open, wait for a pass than have a scoring chance. I say chance because Lipinski would usually stop them.
Poland’s Goalie of the Future is Here
Sebastian Lipinski is the goalie of the future for Poland. I was so impressed by him at this tournament, despite how many times the odds were against him he made save after save. I lost track of how many chances off of odd mash rushes or uncovered players he saved. His stats don’t say he was that good, finished with a .910 sv%, but there was not often goals where I found myself blaming him. Lipinski was the obvious choice to start for Poland in this tournament and he is able to return next season.
Jan Soltys Should Be in North America
I don’t think there is a player more suited for the North American style of hockey than Jan Soltys. That type of game was made for him and it showed in this tournament. He was aggressive on the forecheck, played a great two-way game, and was physical. Jan Soltys has easily become my top Polish prospect. He simply is the complete player that we don’t often see in Poland. There are no big holes or a weak point in his game. There is confirmed CHL interest in him, and they’ll regret not bringing him over sooner.
Piotr Sarnik was not good enough
Piotr Sarnik had his first chance at the head coaching job for the U20 team. He was a long time assistant coach on the team, but not apart of David Leger’s staff last year. I give a lot of praise to David Leger and how good his teams looked. They were really well structured and sound defensively. I can not say for the team Sarnik brought to the table. The team’s look very unprepared and unstructured. There was also a concerning lack of chemistry, which is really bad considering how many of them play together on PZHL U23. The biggest example I can give of this is the game against Italy. They look overmatched against a far worse team, same with the Japan game. Yeah, they scored 7 goals on their talent alone, but Japan was always in the game. It never felt like they were out. Poland should have crushed them.
The Silver Streak
Poland has won a silver medal for the 4th year in a row. This is starting to get really weird at this point. The shocking ways they have won this medal is astounding. The first year they would lose to France on the final day by 4 goals and it had to be 4 goals. The next year, they would lose a shocking game to Italy on the final day to blow their chance at gold. The third year, Poland took a much better Norway team to the shootout, in a game that showed just how much potential Poland has. This year, they beat Hungary as underdogs. Hungary blew their chances like Poland did in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Why does this keep happening?
– 17-year-old Sebastian Brynkus had an impressive tournament, scoring 4 goals, yes 4, not the 3 IIHF scoring is saying. Unless you can watch this clip and tell me Kamil Walega scored.
– IIHF Scoring and their new website is awful. So many errors and not even a once of effort to fix them.
-Olaf Bizacki had a really nice tournament. GKS Tychy has a good one in him.
– Milosz Noworyta was pretty disappointing. So many unforced errors.