The Polska Hokej Liga has a new team on top as GKS Katowice has swepted Unia Oświęcim in the finals. It is the seventh time in history that the city has been named the champions of Poland, but the first time in 52 years. The long wait and struggles of the team have finally paid off! GKS Katowice left all out on the ice defeated Oswiecim in four games out-scoring them 14 to 6.
In 2015, Katowice had finished with an awful 1-35 record. The team made the slow climb back to the top, before constantly being a contender since 2018. In 2018, the team made it to the finals where they were defeated by GKS Tychy. The next two years would only result in bronze-medal games for Katowice.
In the 2022 offseason, the team brought back former head coach Jacek Płachta, who had been coaching in Germany the past few seasons. It wasn’t just a coaching change as the team brought in Polish national team stars Jakub Wanacki, John Murray, and Patyrk Wronka. The team also added big imports with Anthon Eriksson, Carl Hudson, and Matias Lehtonen. This really felt like a complete overhaul of their roster with so many more players I did not name added. The roster shuffling would continue during the year with more imports and adding Polish legend Marcin Kolusz right before the transfer deadline.
The big moves paid off though as Katowice finished as the top team in the PHL during the regular season. They dominated the playoffs similarly to how they dominated the regular season. In the first round, they dispatched Zaglebie Sosnowiec in five games, including a 9-1 game 5. In the semi-finals, they went head to head with GKS Tychy. The former back-to-back champs gave everything they could and pushed Katowice to game 7. In game 7, the two evenly matched teams went to overtime, where Jakub Wanacki scored the gaming-winning goal.