Category: Uncategorized

Three Polish National Teams to Play In Foreign Leagues.

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.

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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.

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

Tomek Valtonen To Stay With The Polish National Team

Tomek Valtonen will remain with the Poland national team as head coach.

Tomek Valtonen came to Poland with a lot of fanfare. The former Liiga player had Polish blood and spoke the language. He also was to be the head coach of Podhale, meaning he would be in Poland year round. He was also relatively young for a coach of his experience at 38-years-old. He had a long coaching career in Finland, serving as an assistant on Jokerier U20 team and Finland’s World Junior team before taking over as the head coach of Sport (Liiga) from 2014-18.

Valtonen’s lone season in Poland started with a bunch of potential. Poland did well in a big test at the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge facing off against Austria, Denmark, and Norway with a depleted roster. The rest of the season saw controversy after controversy arise some involving Valtonen others not and out of his control. This includes Valtonen taking a job in Germany and players retiring from the Polish national team. This would all come to the head where at the World Championships, Poland came in with a somewhat lackluster roster and would lose one game in overtime to Romania causing the team to the stay in Division 1B for 2020.

Valtonen staying is a huge boost for Poland. While he had consistency problems that other coaches in Poland have suffered through there was a lot that Valtonen did right. He incorporated more youth into the lineup. When the players fought for better conditions, he stood by them. I have to imagine that situation between players and the PZHL would have been worse without him. Valtonen also made some necessary line up changes that benefited Poland tremendously like moving Marcin Kolusz to defense.

This will be the first season in 2 years that Poland will not be looking for a new head coach. The expectation is that Risto Dufva will also be taking more of a larger role with the Polish national team. Dufva served as a consultant last year for team Poland. This season he will be the head coach for GKS Katowice and assistant for the national team. Tommi Satosaari will stay on as the goaltending coach. The team also announced that Jacek Szopinski and Marek Zietara would not be behind the bench next year making it an all Finnish staff.

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

 

Two Polish Players in College Hockey. Two Different Tales.

Both Wojciech Stachowiak and Kamil Sadlocha will be competing in the NCAA, the top college hockey league in the world, this season. The two will also be going head to head quite a few times as their respective schools, Ohio State (Sadlocha) and Michigan State (Stachowiak) are in the same conference. They also battled it out multiple times in the United States Hockey League (USHL) last year. They’re also both Freshman this year for their respective Universities. They actually have a lot of similarities, another being both players will not represent Poland nationally, despite being born in Poland. There is one big difference between them though and that is their relationship with Poland.

Kamil Sadlocha was born in Poland but moved across the pond to the United States at a young age. He excelled at hockey and was one of the best players in the Chicago Mission system. This lead to him getting chances with US National development team. In 2016, he would join the Madison Capitals of the USHL, putting up 22 points in his rookie season. He would return to the Capitals in 2017 and put up new career highs in goals (16), assists (21), and points (37). During this time, he also committed to play hockey at the Ohio State University. Ohio State hockey had been on the decline for years, but their stock has been rising the past few seasons, making the Frozen Four last year. Kamil Sadlocha could have played for Poland, but the opportunity with Team USA was one he could not turn down. When I interviewed Sadlocha during last season, he had this to say on his Polish heritage, ” Most of my family still lives in Poland so I am very proud of my heritage. My dad played professional hockey in Poland and my uncle still plays. So we cheer for him. We also enjoy watching Lewandowski. My dad follows him a good amount.”

Wojciech Stachowiak is not as straightforward and his situation with Poland is one to this day I don’t really understand fully. Stachowiak was born in Gdansk, Poland. He moved to the German development system in 2011, playing in the German u16 league with ES Weißwasser, with him later moving to the Krefelder EV 1981 junior system. During this time, he represented Poland at some non-IIHF junior events. In 2015, he represented Poland at the Riga Cup.

A year later, he would start to represent Germany at some more non-IIHF international events. In 2017, Stachowiak gave an interview to Hokej.net, during the interview, Stachowiak claimed he had never received an offer from the PZHL, the controlling body of the national team, to play for team Poland. This was disputed by some members of the PZHL at the time.  During the 2017 NHL draft, rumors started circulating that the Vancouver Canucks were interested in him. Stachowiak would go undrafted and has yet to be invited to a Canucks development camp. A source told me, these rumors came from Stachowiak’s father. Stachowiak’s father had also gone on various Facebook rants about his son’s situation with the PZHL around the time the interview was published. After going undrafted, Stachowiak would return to Germany only to leave halfway through the 2017-18 season to play for the Central Illinois Flying Aces in the USHL. He would have strong year posting 19 points in 38 games while committing to play hockey at Michigan State. At the end of the season, Poland’s former head junior coach, David Leger, tried to contact Stachowiak with no luck. His IIHF status remains unclear, but he is likely German property. There appears to be no relationship between him and the PZHL.

Krzysztof Oliwa’s Mess of a Junior Team Folds Midseason.

Kryzystof Oliwa is the Owner, General Manager, and Head Coach of the Kalkaska Rhinos.  The Rhinos are a junior hockey team that competes in the USPHL Premier, that is until yesterday. According to TheJuniorHockeyNews.com, the team has folded. Folding midseason is terrible as many players will now be unable to join a new team for the rest of the season, as the transfer period has ended. 

Oliwa is popular among Polish American and Canadian fans as he is only one of two Polish players to ever play in the NHL. He is also the only Polish-born player to the win the Stanley Cup. Oliwa was an enforcer and the earned the nickname, “The Polish Hammer”. Most in North America don’t about know him being charged with domestic abuse, him reportedly beating up members of the Polish national team, his dismissal from his coaching job with the national team after players complaints, and his disturbing CIHL suspension.

When you look at his history, I actually have to ask how could a league could actually let him have a team. The Rhinos did not field a full roster in either of the last two seasons. The organization is a mess. The Rhinos were originally in the Canadian International Hockey League but left to be an independent team. After Oliwa announced the Rhinos were leaving, he was indefinitely suspended for altercations with a referee and rival team staff member.  He also refused to pull an injured goalie and did not allow the CIHL medical staff to tend to him.

One of the players who played for Oliwa was Tomasz Skokan. Skokan is a defenseman on the Polish national team. He played parts of three seasons putting up 50 points in 50 games. He recently returned to Poland, signing with GKS Katowice. When asked for a comment about the team or coach, Skokan replied “I am very thankful to coach Oliwa. I think he was a demanding coach but I am sure he has never had any bad intentions towards his players. He is a great person as well as a coach. He knew how to inspire his team to get them above their dreams and never give up. Coach Oliwa has helped me a lot in developing my skills and I’m really glad that I had an opportunity to cooperate with him and be part of his team”

Another Rhino’s player who chose to remain anonymous said, “Oliwa was fake. He lied to players, families, and everyone. I never had a coach like him. A coach must be the best friend, must be like a dad for his players, he was none of that for us.” He also confirmed the team didn’t have a full roster, “We would play with a max of 12 players versus 20 to 25 guys.” When asked if Oliwa ever physically harmed players, the player responded Yes, but did not provide further details.

We have reached out to former Rhinos players and will update with quotes.