The Polish national teams all played in their final tournaments of 2021. It was a crazy year for the national team, with both men and women’s senior teams creating unforgettable moments during the Olympic qualifiers. After a couple of years, we finally get to see all levels of the national team competing in the IIHF again. It will be interesting to see how teams have changed over the past few years. Especially at the junior levels, we know full rosters will have changed since we last saw a few groups and most of the national team coaching staffs have also entirely been revamped.
Along with the return to our first regular IIHF tournament, plenty of teams continued to prepare for their years. In total five national teams were in action. The Men’s U20 team played in the first IIHF tournament of the year in the U20 Division 1 Group B World Championships. The Men’s senior team was hosting the Christmas Cup in Polonia. The Men’s U18 squad played an exhibition series in Hungary. The lone women’s team to suit up was the Women’s u18 teams. This was their final tournament before the U18 world championship in January. The Men’s U16 team was in action with exhibition games against HK Propad U16.
Men’s U20. IIHF U20 World Championships Division 1 Group B
Game 1: France defeats Poland 6-2 (Goals: Fabian Kapica, Szymon Mackowski)
Game 2: Slovenia defeats Poland 3-1 (Goals: Krzysztof Bukowski)
Game 3: Japan defeats Poland 7-2 (Goals: Oliwier Kasperek 2x)
Game 4: Estonia defeats Poland 4-3 in overtime (Goals: Wiktor Bochnak, Pawel Wybiral, Karol Sterbenz)
Game 5: Ukraine beats Poland 4-1 (Goals: Jakub Slusarczyk)
This was a bad tournament for Poland. The team lost all five games and found themselves relegated to division two group A. This will be the lowest division group Poland U20 has played in since the IIHF established the group system. Poland U20 once found themselves on the doorstep of being promoted to division one group A with four straight silver medals. Now the team will have to fight for promotion back to division one. There will be nine returning forwards from the current squad. To read more about the tournament, check out our 5 Thoughts piece. It May Be Time To Sound The Alarms. 5 Thoughts 2021 U20 World Championships
Senior Men’s Team. Christmas Cup.
Game 1: France defeats Poland 3-2 (Goals: Radosław Sawicki, Jakub Bukowski)
Game 2: Poland defeats Hungary 3-2 (Goals: Łukasz Nalewajka, Radosław Sawicki, Radosław Nalewajka)
Game 3: Poland defeats Ukraine 4-1 (Goals: Radosław Nalewajka, Alan Łyszczarczyk, Dominik Paś, Sebastian Brynkus)
Always take these tournaments with a grain of salt, as no one comes to the tournament with their entire roster. Poland had a bumpy first two periods against France. The red and white would come alive late in the third. Poland would score two late goals before France killed off a late penalty ending the game. Poland faired much better against Hungary and Ukraine. Poland grabbed a 3-0 lead against Hungary before the halfway point. Which Hungary never was able to overcome despite two late goals. Poland scored two goals in the first 10 mins against Ukraine, and that was pretty much all that was needed.
Again while no one had their top rosters, these games do feature competition that is a step above the PHL and usually on par with Poland’s national team. So it is nice to see Poland do well. I was very happy to see Kamil Lewartowski post solid games against Hungary and Ukraine, and he finished with a .933 save percentage for the weekend. It is very cool to see both Nalewajka brothers score in a game.
Women’s U18. Olympic Hopes Tournament
Game 1: Czechia U16 defeats Poland U18 6-0
Game 2: Slovakia U18 defeats Poland U18 3-1 (Goals: Magdalena Łąpieś)
Game 3: Poland U18 vs. Hungary U18 canceled.
We have yet to find a rostered number for Poland in this tournament, so sorry for any missing information. Unfortunately, there was a covid outbreak during this tournament. Which saw games against Hungary canceled. This was Poland’s final test before the U18 World Champion Division Division 1 Group B begins on January 10th. Both Hungary and Slovakia play in the next group up. Staying competitive against Slovakia is an excellent sign for Poland. Especially props to Poland’s starting goalie in the game, whom I believe to be Julia Bujak. The women’s youth program continues to get more and more competitive in these matches. When this tournament occurred in 2019. Poland lost 15-1 to Czechia but did upset Slovakia 3-2.
Men’s U18 Exhibition Matches in Hungary
Game 1: Poland U18 defeats France U18 3-2 in a shootout (Goals: Michał Kusak, Piotr Ciepielewski)
Game 2: Poland defeats Hungary U16 6-2 (Goals: Missing. No no. roster)
Game 3: Poland defeats Hungary U17 2-1 (Goals: Aleks Menc, Other goal missing)
Game 4: Poland defeats France U18 2-1 in a shootout. (Goals: Damian Kapa)
Another tournament without a numbered roster, but we were able to get some goal scorers, and match them. Well not France’s and Hungary’s best rosters, it was great to see Poland pull off a clean sweep of the tournament. Both France and Hungary play in divisions higher than Poland. This wasn’t even a complete roster for Poland as well. This U18s squad should have some high hopes. Kusak and Ciepiewlewski both looked good, and were players we mentioned that the U20 team should have maybe considered. The U18 squad will finally get their next chance to play in Division 1 Group B, after earning promotion all the way back in 2019. Staying in the division would be a big deal for Poland.
Men’s U16. Exhibitions versus HK Poprad U16
Game 1: HK Poprad U16 defeats Poland 4-2 (Goals: Karol Tymcio, Kacper Prokopiak)
Game 2: Poland defeats HK Poprad U16 4-3 (Goals: Olaf Zachariasz 2x , Kacper Prokopiak, Patryk Hanzel)
It is always hard to judge how a team progresses when they play a junior club from another country. In the end, the main takeaway has Poland pulled off a win, along with staying competitive in the initial game. Poland did blow a lead in the first game but made a comeback in the second game. 14-year-old Zachariasz was able to put home two, while Kacper Prokopiak impacted each matchup.