Category: PHL

“Russian Reinforcements” 2019-20 PHL Team Previews: KH Torun

Leading up to the start of 2019-20 season, we will preview every team in the PHL. 

Last year KH Torun had a really great run during the PHL regular season that saw them capture sixth place just a year after being promoted. They even battled Cracovia Krakow at some points for the fifth spot. A big part of this was the explosive Russian offensive trio of Daniil Orekhin, Robert Korchokha, and Semyon Garshin. That trio all departed for Zaglebie Sosnowiec in the offseason though. KH Torun also saw two valuable import defensemen leave in Tomas Parizek and Maxim Kamenkov. This left Torun with a lot of holes to plug on their roster. They brought in a Polish star to fill one, and a whole Russian army to fill the others.

Before we start a lot of players are on try-outs. I will fully mark the roster on who I think are the best players in camp, contract status will not currently affect rankings.

Forwards

Bartosz Fraszko – Dmitri Teslenko – Danila Bogush

Jaroslaw Dolega – Michal Kalinowski – Daniel Minge

Yegor Feofanov –  Dominik Olszewski – Jakub Jaworski

Piotr Naparlo – Gleb BondarukVladislav Sokolov

Other forwards: Artyom Sadretdinov, Alexander Volzhankin, Filip Mazurkiewicz, Vadim Ageyev, and Vadim Artemyev. 

Bartosz Fraszko is truly the most essential player on Torun’s roster. There is no doubt in my mind with the ice time and chances he’ll receive in Torun he maybe one of the top scorers in the PHL, helping replace the production of the Russian trio. The if on Fraszko is will he have linemates that will help him get there. Of the imports trying out for Torun, Dmitri Teslenko and Danila Bogush really stuck out to me as two players that really have some potential to provide offense in the PHL. Fraszko and Teslenko are 23 and Bogush is 21, making it a really young top line, but fast and skilled as well. Jaroslaw Dolega (37) and Daniel Minge (30) should both be able to provide some veteran leadership and nice secondary scoring. Michal Kalinowski has had some productive seasons in his career but cooled off lately. He should still be a solid part of the team’s middle-six forward group. Dominik Olszewski is a promising prospect, who I want to see take on some more significant roles. Of the six Torun players on my top 80 U23 board, he was the highest at 45. Overall there is a star player, some solid players, and some big chances on imports. If those chances payoff, Torun should have no problem repeating their previous success.

Defensemen

Adrian Jaworski – Eetu Moksunen

Artyom Smirnov – Mateusz Zielinski

Bartosz Skolmowski – Dmitri Kozlov

Other defensemen: Mikhail Syroyezhkin and Stanislav Kandzyuba

Update 8/15: Eetu Moksunen did not receive a contract from his tryout.

This defense may not feature any stars, but I wouldn’t say anyone is out of place. Eetu Moksunen had some nice moments with Podhale last year but dropped off as the season went on. Adrian Jaworski is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated young defensemen in Poland. He plays a nice two-way game and could develop into a top guy. Artyom Smirnov is quite an interesting import. He has served as the captain for multiple junior teams and had moderate success in the third tier of Russian hockey. This defense could use more talent, but it isn’t going to handcuff the team.

Goalies

Patrik Spesny

Krzysztof Bojanowski

Szymon Guranowski

Patrik Spesny was great for Torun last year. He is precisely what Torun needs in the back of the net given their lack of a great defense. Spesny is also still very young at only 23-years-old, meaning we might have only seen a glimpse of what he is capable of.

Prediction: 9th

It was tough to pick who was finishing second to last on my list. I feel this season in the PHL there are three tiers of teams. The top tier of four championship contenders, the second tier of five mid-level teams, and then the bottom tier of Janow and PZHL u23. That mid-level tier is were Torun is. The standings between these teams will most likely be decided by one or two games. It is a very competitive group, where concerns about the defense and too many import forwards that may underperform have them finishing 9th. This is the ranking that I believe will most likely be wrong.

“What Is Left of Bankrupted Teams” 2019-20 PHL Team Previews: Naprzod Janow

Leading up to the start of 2019-20 season, we will preview every team in the PHL. 

Today we start off our series previewing Naprzod Janow. Last year Naprzod Janow won the championship in the Polish first league to earn the right to once again play in the top level of Polish hockey. Janow only spent one year in the second league after being demoted in 2017. They have been going up and down between the PHL and the first league recently with the hope this year they’ll be able to stick in the PHL. Maybe to the benefit of them, or a curse, two teams bankrupted in the PHL last year leaving two full rosters needing new homes. While the best players were picked up last year mid-season, today we see if there was still anything left on the bones for Janow.

Forwards

Yaroslav Salnik – Filip Stopinski – Maxim Titok

Alexis Svitac – Karol Wasinski – Adam Rajski

Michal Rybak – Szymon Skrodziuk – Maciej Rybak

Wojciech Gorzycki – Bartosz Kosmeda – Maciej Bielec

Other forwards: Jakub Piper, Lukasz Niedzwiedz,  Marcin Wrobel, Michal Stoklosa, Patrik Michal, Patryk Pohl, and Oliwier Ksiondz.

The offense is better than I expected, but also still not that great. It is full of players that need these top minute chances to get better, but when they’re all playing together it can collapse really quickly. There are not really all-around solid players to help guide them or be insurance. Yaroslav Salnik and Maxim Titok are interesting imports. Both players were top producers in the first league last year. Janow has to be hoping that they will get something like Torun did last year. Filip Stopinski is returning to Poland after a poor season in the Oberliga. Stopinski continues to struggle with consistency problems and other roadblocks. At times he has shown he can be a big producer in the PHL, but he also has some massive dry spells in there. If everything clicks this could actually be a really good first line, but that is a lot of ifs. Svitac, Wasinski, Rajski, the Ryabks brothers, and Skrodziuk all kinda fall in the same boat. They’re still young, show some promise, but mostly struggles when it comes to excelling at the top level. They all have a wonderful chance to take right now, it will be interesting to see who if anyone can thrive in these big roles. It is an interesting offense that I am excited to track. At the end of the day though, most of these guys would be third liners on another PHL team playing reduced minutes and roles. I do believe it will be an improvement on Polonia and Opole last year though.

Defensemen

Michal Krokosz – Adam Krok

Bartlomiej Stepien – Igor Sarna

Marek Kosakowski – Kacper Kaplon

Other defensemen: Aleksander Bodora

The defense is the biggest weakness of the team. Michal Krokosz is fine, but played higher-level hockey last year in the first league for the first time since 2015. A lot of the defense is in their mid-20s and don’t show a lot of potential for getting better. I don’t think any of them break the top six for another team in the PHL. When the league is so open to imports now, I don’t know how Janow doesn’t search for at least one import defensemen. The roster isn’t final, but I hope they’ll add something here.

Update 8/13: Janow signed Danil Skripets. The 24-year-old defenseman has represented Ukraine at the World Championships three times, including last year. He is instantly the best defensemen on their roster.

Update 8/15: Eetu Moksunen has joined the team on a tryout. The defensemen played with Podhale last year.

Goalies

Michal Krofta

Szymon Niemczyk

The biggest story in Janow’s net, may not even be in their net. They’re still in contract negotiations with Michael Luba. While I believe Luba is ready to be a starter in the PHL, he is not going to save this team. Head coach Jacek Szopinski should know this pretty well after having Nick Vilardo stop over 40 plus shots a game during their time with Opole. Michal Krofta is an interesting goaltender himself though. He at one point did really well in the Czech junior leagues and posted an above-average Goals Against Average in the Czech second league. Niemczyk would be the backup or third string.

Update: Luba signed in France2

Prediction: 10th

Interesting things on offense can’t save this team from finishing last in the PHL, only above PZHL u23. This is a team that has a chance to blend a lot of good import players with younger Polish talents, but they don’t seem to be taking advantage of that. They only have two imports that didn’t play in Poland last year. One is coming from the Greater Metro Hockey League and wasn’t a top scorer there…

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GKS Katowice Defeats Belfast Giants; Advance to Continental Cup Finals

GKS Katowice defeated the Belfast Giants, 4-2 on Saturday night in their final group E continental cup game. Coming into today, GKS Katowice was 1-1 with a win over Italian Alps Hockey club Ritten Sport and a loss to Croatia EBEL club, Medveščak Zagreb. GKS Katowice needed to win this game to advance to the Continental Cup finals in January. Katowice trailed 2-0 early in the second period but would start their comeback in the middle of the second after Mikolaj Lopuski scored on the power play to bring them within one. Just 3 minutes later, Jesse Rohtla would score to tie the game. At the end of the 2nd period, Giants defensemen, Kevin Raine, would get a 5 min major and a game misconduct for kneeing. On the powerplay, Niko Tuhkanen would score to give GKS Katowice their first lead of the game. Tuhkanen’s goal would be the game winner, as Janne Laakonen would add an empty netter to finish the game. Kevin Lindskoug made 27 saves for GKS Katowice and finished the tournament with an impressive .942 save percentage.  GKS Katowice will now turn their focus to the finals, where they will have to face off against the Belfast Giants (EIHL, Great Britain) again along with Arlan Kokshetau (Kazaksthan), and HK Gromel (BXL, Belarus).