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.
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.
– 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.