This tournament was a fitting end for the hockey year in Poland. Poland came out strong taking down the Netherlands and Ukraine in dominant fashion, only before losing a hard-fought game to Romania. Then once their backs were against the wall and they needed to prove themselves they won but played a poor game against Estonia. Then in their final game with nothing to play for, they played a nothing game beating Japan 7-4.
The Kapica Show
Damian Kapica had an amazing tournament. His 5 goal performance against Ukraine was a sight to see. He had one of the best tournaments production wise ever in the history of Polish hockey. He is only the 19th polish player to score 6 or more goals at the World Championship and the first since Damian Slabon in 2002-03. He recorded 10 total points, which is tied for the 15th most on Poland at a World Championship.
Throw Away the Powerplay
This powerplay was absolute trash. There is no other way to describe it. Going 2 for 15, only above relegated Netherlands, is a joke. With how much Poland scored in this tournament I don’t know how their powerplay was so bad. It was awful to watch. Tomek Valtonen and staff better have some idea how to fix if they want to keep their jobs.
The Youth Movement
There was a decent amount of youth at this tournament and they impressed. I really liked seeing Goscinski in particular. His play really stood out to me. He always seemed to be around or had the puck when he was on the ice. Alan Lyszczarczyk, Bartlomiej Jeziorski, Oskar Jaskiewicz, and Patryk Wronka all had strong tournaments as well so if you want something to put your hopes in it is them.
The Estonia Game vs. The Romania Game
There was a vast difference between the Romania game and the Estonia game. The Romania game showed a team Poland that was fierce and hungry. They wanted to win, they played their hearts out and honestly just got unlucky at times or just couldn’t finish for whatever reason. It was a team that even though they lost didn’t play bad. The Estonia game was the absolute opposite. They looked dead, they looked like they did not care. They were just breezing through and they just barely got by. They let Estonia hang in and took so many unnecessary penalties. After that game, regardless of if Poland got gold, I knew they deserved to be in Group B.
What is next? I don’t know. It is hard to know with Polish hockey. Is the PZHL going to be so distraught with Tomek Valtonen that they fire him, like how Ted Nolan was ousted after only one year? Will more player quit the national team? Will any players actually leave Poland this year while casting doubt on the PHL’s ability to develop them as a player? All these questions will get answered over the coming weeks. Everyone today is already trying to figure what is to blame. There are also those saying Poland is doomed or that open league will kill Poland off. It is a very upset environment with some laughing at the failure. In my preview for the tournament, I said I did not know if last year was the darkest it will get for Poland or if Valtonen was the dawn. It has got darker for Poland and the jury is still out on Valtonen. I do believe the dawn is coming though. There is more young talent right now for Poland than any other period in the last decade. There are changes that are hopefully coming to the PHL. Hopefully, more players will look outside of Poland to improve and challenge themselves. The dawn is on the horizon if Poland can capitalize on it.
– In the game against Romania we got to see Patryk Wronka in 3 on 3 overtime and pump that into my veins I need more. Wronka is such a fast and creative player that 3 on 3 fits him so well. It was so exciting to watch.
– Malasinski would only have one point at this tournament and it came on the final day against Japan. For a player who is supposed to be an offensive leader for Poland he now just has 2 assist and no goals in the last two World Championships.
– Bartosz Ciura has now finished another international tournament without recording a point. He has now played 60 senior games with the national team and has zero points.
– Hats off to the Netherlands, in their final game they took it to Romania. It was probably the second hardest game for Romania.
– Congrats Romania, you were supposed to be the easy game in this tournament, but you proved everyone wrong.
– IIHF Site and Records are awful. I hate the new site layout and how long it now takes to get as simple statistics like shots. There is so much less information now as well. When you add in the IIHF is trash as achieving their own history, so not even dedicated writers and fans can track it for them now, it is a complete mess.
– Rest in Peace to Jason Botchford. Botch may not be really well known in our hockey circle. By title, he was a beat writer for the Vancouver Canucks, but to fans in the Canucks community, he was so much more. There was no writer better than Botch, the way he was able to be both entertaining and informative. He was so witty and able to switch his tone immediately, but it was not jarring. He will never be matched. He deserved to be covering the biggest hockey events but instead covered the Canucks, one of the worst franchises by record this decade. He had a passion for the Canucks though, he was more passionate than anyone else about the team. Starting as a teenager and continuing onto this year, I would stay up till past 1 a.m. to read his series the “Provies” (later The Athletties). He was my writing inspiration and the 5 Thoughts format was inspired by his work. I had the honor of meeting him this year in Detroit. This was my first season working in public relations in the NHL, and I was terrified for the most part to speak to the media out of turn. I approached Botch though just to simply say hi and that I enjoyed his work. Instead, it turned into a full conversation where he asked about my life and job. He was so nice, sincere, and encouraging. This is the story that everyone seems to have about him. There will never be another Botch.