The PZHL has made some big moves this offseason. There is always a need for more Polish players to develop and test their skills aboard and now more than 60 plus players will be doing that. This is due to the fact that three national teams will be playing in foreign leagues next season. These teams are the Women’s Senior National team, Men’s U18 team, and Men’s U16 team.
The Women’s senior team will be playing in the Elite Women’s Hockey League. They will be playing under the name of Silesia Brackens. The Elite Women’s Hockey League, or EWHL, is mostly comprised of women’s teams from various countries. Two countries have multiple teams as Austria has three and Hungary has two. Denmark, Italy, Kazakhstan, and Slovenia will also have a team in the competition. All of the other countries involved are ranked higher than Poland’s women team in the IIHF, besides Slovenia. A majority of every country’s national team plays in the EWHL.
This is a great move by the PZHL. Right now a big part of the growth in women’s hockey has been the ability to grow top stars like Kamila Wieczorek or Karolina Pozniewska. There has been a lack of depth though that has been the falling point for Polish teams. This is a great way for Poland to develop depth as players will be facing tougher competition. The team will also be playing together for an entire season and that could help build chemistry. This league could be a stepping stone for younger Polish players to reach higher leagues. Poland will also be playing some of their international opponents quite a few times, which will allow them to gameplan better for the World Championships.
I have been a big supporter of the job Ivan Bednar has done as the head coach of the national team and look forward to this being another great tool in his chest. Praise must also be given to Marta Zawadzka in her work to get a Polish team in the league. Overall women’s hockey has a really bright future in Poland.
The Men’s U18 team will be playing in the Czech Republic U20 junior league. There are two divisions of the Czech U20 league a top league and a second tier. Though it has not been announced which league Poland will be playing in I have a strong belief that it will be the second league. The Men’s U16 team will be playing in the Czech Republic’s U17 league.
This is a really good thing for a lot of young players in Poland. This provides them the chance to develop their skills against tougher teams without having to leave Poland. As much as Poland needs players to leave Poland and develop, it is not an easy task. It is a lot of weight to put on a teenager’s shoulder in having to move to new a country away from their family. The teams in the Czech leagues will provide a lot of the same benefits as Poland’s EWHL team. This will create stronger depth, be a stepping stone, and further develop chemistry.
These are the kind moves that PZHL needs to make to keep developing hockey in Poland. It is an instant boost to all of Poland’s national teams. It may also help continue to remove some of the doubts about Polish hockey players that some players are facing. If the Polish players do well in stronger leagues it helps the credibility of Polish hockey. When you add in the expected improved IIHF results this may create a quick fix to a problem that appeared it was going to take much longer to fix.