Category: Womens Hockey

Marta Zawadzka on Her Career, A Polish Team in the EWHL, and the Growth of Women’s Hockey in Poland.

Marta Zawadzka is one of the most recognized faces in Polish hockey. If there is a major IIHF event going on there is a good chance that Zawadzka will be there. She has served as an international referee, on Poland’s women’s hockey committee, a General Manager for Poland’s national team across multiple events, PHL Commissioner, an IIHF Council Member, among many titles at various sporting events.

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Polish Puck: First, on your career as an official how did you get into reffing? 

Marta Zawadzka: My father was an international referee and as I am the only child I took over the tradition. My cousin as well was an international official so it is like a kind of tradition in the family. I started working from 2000 and suspended my license in 2016 due to another responsibilities. I had for four years as well international license. At the moment I am part of Officiating department by PIHF and co-chairperson of IIHF officiating committee.

PP: You are one of the only two female IIHF council members. How did you get appointed to the position and what exactly do IIHF council members do?

MZ: I was elected to the PIHF board in 2012. Since 2013 I was attending IIHF Congress as a delegate. When the election was announced PIHF decided to appoint me as a candidate from Poland. I was and still am person who is recognizable and devoted to promote female hockey and female officiating. I was also already cooperating with other countries regarding international affairs. I have managed to get second result as become IIHF council member. I am at present co-chair of Female committee and Officiating. Trying to combine those two subjects to create new career path for officials and develop women’s game. As a committee recently we managed to get the top women’s event within 10 teams as well as the Olympic tournament. At present the number of female national teams increased as well as the number of players. We have managed to establish unofficial European championships for women’s u16 teams. And it is still growing. Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer from Hungary who is running the female committee with me is a great role model and perfect co-worker so it is a pleasure to grow the game with her. Sergei Gontcharov as well is very open and eager to increase the number and quality of female officials. Besides that the board is a group of people very cooperative and open for even the toughest discussions to create better environment for the game.

PP: It has been amazing to see the growth in women hockey. Poland’s women’s team is really doing well lately development wise. How far has Poland come since you started work with Women’s hockey in Poland?

MZ: I was the first team leader and the first world championship participation. The first game we have won 23:0 against Ireland. At present we are after three gold medals and one bronze. This year it has been historical result in group Ib. I was the one who decided and convinced the board to establish u18 team and most probably next year we will be having u16 team. At present 5 female officials were on ice on tournaments this season. On Friday I am going on a meeting t Budapest for Europeans Women’s Hockey League meeting as one polish team might participate in that league. I am very proud of the players who are devoting their lives to hockey dealing it with school, job, families. As long as they will want to play I will try to organize for them best conditions to do so. I think that there is still lots of chances for female hockey to grow in Poland. We can see that how many players this season were playing abroad. We can see that by only female team run in Katowice by Kojotki Team. We can see that more girls wants to be officials, coaches and managers.

PP: Speaking of players going aboard. On the men’s side, it has been a bit of controversial topic, but it seems on the women side players seem more willing to go aboard. Why do you think that is?

MZ: Ladies are very ambitious and if they are doing something they do it 100%. I think that they wanted to learn more,develope themselves, try something new. And it happened this season possible. As well their job was appreciated and teams wanted them. This year with EWHL project they might grab opportunity to play against top teams (While) playing in Poland. But guys will go abroad more often this season. I think they should it is a great asset for them to learn something new and try their strengths among stronger teams.

PP: This EWHL project sounds really interesting would it start in 2019-20?

MZ: Yes from September this year but I will confirm that on Friday. Such project could help to get better results next WWC

PP: And the world championship will be in Poland! How much will that help promote the game?

MZ: We had such projects in 2017 to held two WWC in Poland and it was a great promotional and attendance success. We want to use both events to grow the game promote the EWHL project and bring more girls into the game. For them to become new Martyna Sass, Karolina Pozniewska. As a developing country we need to stimulate the prospects all the time showing them what they can achieve. We want to use it to promote the game among also new spectators as the game is easier to watch and learn about the game. And then come to Spodek for men’s event.

PP: And final question what would you say is the biggest hurdle for women’s hockey right now?

MZ: First and it is not a secret is of course money. Secondly, I think that being treated as a serious athlete. Being treated fair in the men’s world.not like feminist just like athletes with passion goals and dreams. 

At Polish Puck, we are very thankful to Marta Zawadzka for her time and answering our questions. We wish her the best of luck for the next hockey season! \

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

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Top 15 Female U20 Polish Players. #1 Wiktoria Sikorska

Poland’s women hockey team is still taking those first steps sometimes, despite that there have been some players that have reached heights so quickly it is astounding. Their male counterparts seem to be stuck in quicksand, but the women’s division keeps pushing forward no matter the roadblock. The amount of talent, especially young talent, in the system right now is amazing. There is Kamila Wieczorek playing in Sweden, Julia Zienlka, Martyna Sass, and Zuzanna Baran in Slovakia, and a strong core of players in Poland. The biggest name and the next to add her name to the list of Polish hockey legends is Wiktoria Sikorska.

Sikorska is maybe just a year away from being able to take the title of the best Polish women’s player. This season, she showed the world was in her hands. At 15-years-old she dominated in the top women’s Czech league this season. She finished her regular season with 16 points (11 G, 5A) in 13 games., tied for the 11th most in the league. It was the 3rd most by any player under 18, with the top 2 having at least 4 more games.

Sikorska also was the leader on a Polish U18 squad that went up against opponents way out of Poland’s league in the Visegrad Four Tournament. Then she came back to try and take Poland’s U18 team to a new height by putting them on her back at the U18s. It was her second-time representing Poland’s U18 squad at IIHF competition, her first as captain. She lead Poland with 7 goals and 3 assist in 5 games, being a scoring machine for Poland. Her performance earned her the honor of being named the Best forward at the tournament and best player for Poland. In her first go at the U18s, she had 5 points (3G, 2A) in 5 games. Sikorska will have a chance to represent Poland two more times at the U18s. She will easily crush Kamila Wieczorek’s U18 scoring record. She will only need 10 points to set a new record in at the 2019-2020 U18s, something I imagine she will surpass easily. She finished her year with the national team by making her senior IIHF debut at the Division 1B World Championships. She scored her first IIHF goal against China.

Sikorska is an extremely strong skater and always able to stand out when compared to her competition. She has a lot of great offensive instinct and ability to finish. She is great at controlling the puck and with that lethal speed its a nightmare for opposing defenses. In an interview she did with hokej.net before the World Championship, she indicated that she wanted to keep improving and try her hand at a stronger league. Her plan seemed to be moving over to Sweden first than trying her craft in North America. There is no doubt that she would be successful regardless of where she goes. With Sikorska and Poland’s strong core leading the way, I have no doubt that within the next few years Poland will be promoted to Division 1 Group A.

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

Top 15 Female U20 Polish Players. #2 Martyna Sass

The hardest choice in this ranking was who to put second and first. It was tough to pick one over the other, but in the end, Martyna Sass gets the two spot. Sass is a dominate goalie the likes of which Poland’s women team has never seen. To show her dominance, here are the goaltending leaders in the Slovak women’s league.

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She leads the league in every statistical category and by a wide margin. She is easily the best goaltender in the league at 18-years-old. The rest of the league had 6 shutouts, while Sass had 7. She was too good for the league. She led in the league in save percentage by over 2 percent. This is part of why Popradské líšky, Sass’ club team,  was able to capture the championship. This was Sass’ first season playing outside of Poland and proved that she needs some even tougher competition. She completely broke the Slovakian league. This year, she also spent time with Naprzod Janow’s Mens U16 team like she has done in previous seasons. Before moving to Slovakia, Sass had played for Naprzod Janow in the PLHK since she was fourteen.

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Sass caught the attention of the national team at an early age being named Poland’s U18 starting goalie at 14-years-old in 2014-15. She earned the starting job on the senior team just a year later and gave a brilliant performance putting up a .933% save percentage and 1.83 goals against average in 5 games. This helped the Polish women’s team get promoted to Divison 1 Group B for the first time in team history. Sass was named the MVP of team Poland for the tournament. Sass’ play caught a lot of attention, and she was invited to IIHF training camps with former World Champions, and top camps in Finland. Since then Sass has not looked back and been the starting goalie for Poland at the last three World Championships, and at the Olympic Qualifiers. Her most impressive performance coming at this year’s World Championship where she put up a dazzling .930% save percentage in 5 games.  She was once again named the MVP of team Poland for the third time in her career. In total, her trophy case is pretty full with three U18s bronze medals, three senior team Poland MVPs, 2 U18 best goaltender awards, and a D1B World Championship bronze medal.

Sass continues to get better at every tournament she plays at and no matter how the strong the competition is she always gives Poland a chance to win. Her ability to steal games for Poland will always put Poland in contention for gold medals. While she is number two on our list, there may be not a more important member of the Polish national team, men or women. Sass still has a long career ahead of her, but her professional status currently remains unknown. She may return to Slovakia, or try her hand at a stronger league. Wherever she plays there is one guarantee, Sass is a brick wall and will stop anything you throw at her.

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

Top 15 Female U20 Polish Players. #3 Julia Zielinska

Number 3 on our list is a 14-year-old defenseman who already has already won a Championship in Slovakia.

Julie Zielinska is currently Poland’s best defensive prospect by a wide margin. At only 14-years-old, she plays in the top women’s hockey league in Slovakia. This season she recorded 9 points (2G, 7A) in 22 games for Popradskie Lisky. She also averaged 1.95  shots on goal per game. Her 9 points were good fourth among defensemen in the league. It was also the fourth most by any player under 17-years-old. Zielinska helped her team to a 12-2-1-1 record, good for second in the league. In the playoffs, Popradskie Lisky would win the championship downing MHK-Martin in the finals. Zielinska was one of four Polish players on the championship squad with Ewelina Czarnecka, Joanna Orawska, and Martyna Sass.

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Before moving over to Slovakia, Zielinska suited up for Naprzod Janow during the 2017-18 season in the PLHK for her first professional games. In 14 games, she would put up 1 assist.

Zielinska started off her national team career this year making appearances for Poland’s U18 team at two tournaments. The first games were at Visegrad Four Tournament. This was a tournament held in the Czech Republic that saw Poland U18 take on Czech U16, Hungary U18, and Slovakia U18. It was a very tough challenge for Poland as all the teams are ranked inside the top 15 of IIHF women’s rankings while Poland sits at 22. It went as tough as expected for Poland as they were outscored 3 to 23. It was a great learning experience for all the players on the team, including Zielinska who played in all 3 matches.

Zielinska made her IIHF debut for Poland at the 2019 Division 1 Group B U18s. She was the youngest player at the tournament. This was the first time I got to watch Zielinska play, and I walked away impressed.  She showed a strong two-way game with excellent vision, especially on breakouts. The tournament showed that Poland still has work to do and there were often times where players seemed overmatched. Zielinska was never one of those players, she always seemed to play at the same level or above the competition. She also showed off a powerful shot from the point, something Poland’s defense has been lacking. In 5 games at the tournament, she recorded a goal and assist. This led all Polish defensemen in points at the tournament.

Next year, she should be one of the leaders on Poland’s u18 team.  The U18 team is very young with all of the team leaders returning. Their goals should be set on a possible gold medal and promotion. She may have also earned a spot on the Senior team in 2020. The team has not been afraid to use young defensemen before when they deserve it. Wiktoria Gogoc made debut when she was 15-years-old, the same age as Zielinska will be at next year’s World Championships. In terms of her professional career, we reached out to Zielinska on twitter to ask what her future holds in regards to moving to a stronger league. She told us that we will be most likely moving to a stronger league, but did not mention a specific one. Zielinska has a bright future in hockey and is the high-level defensemen the Polish national team really needs right now.

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

Previous Rankings

15-6

5 and 4

Top 15 Female U20 Polish Players. Part 2: 5 and 4

To see players 15-6 click here.

5. Wiktoria Gogoc

Gogoc has been considered one of Poland’s best defensemen for a long time now. Despite being only 18-years-old, she has already represented Poland on the senior level four different times. She was named the captain of Poland’s u18 team in 2017-18. She plays a two-way game and has the ability to rush the puck.

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Gogoc was able to thrive early in her career against tough competition. From 2015-2017, she played in the top Slovakian’s women league. In 40 games, she recorded 14 goals and 21 assists. In 2017-18 she would return to the PLHK with Naprzod Janow. In her first season back in the PLHK she had 7 points (3G, 4A) in 22 games. Gogoc also played 6 games and scored 1 goal at the Men’s u16 level. For this season, she moved to Polonia Bytom. In Bytom she won the PLHK championship this year, contributing 3 points (2G, 1A) in 4 playoff games. She had 2 assist in 7 regular season games. Her production decreases in the PLHK are a bit concerning.

These PLHK trends add to more concern after her performance at last year’s World Championships. In 207-18, she failed to record a single shot in 5 games, along with being heavily overmatched by the competition at times. I don’t want to judge her performance at his year’s worlds too much due to the fact that there was no way to view the event outside of actually being in China. Gogoc was on the lone defensive pairing, with Natalia Kaminska, that had a negative goal differential. She also scored a powerplay goal at the tournament for Poland.

Gogoc still remains of Poland’s top choices on defense. Her game should still continue to improve and as more strong offesnive players join into the line up making her skill set more useful.

4. Zuzanna Baran

Baran slots in at number four after a very strong U18 championship that saw her finish second on the team in points with 4 (1G, 3A). She was also put in a leadership position with being named an assistant captain.

Baran’s made her PLHK team debut in 2016-17 with KS Cracovia 1906, scoring 3 goals in 4 games. Her season was mostly spent with MKHL Krynica in the Slovakian league. In Slovakia, she had 6 points (1G, 5A) in 19 games. She would have a similar situation in the 2017-18 season. She only played one game in the PLHK, spending most of her time in Slovakia again with Krynica. She increased her production by a lot, scoring 8 goals and putting up 2 assist in 18 games. MKHL Krynica would not compete in the Slovakian league for 2018-19. Baran had shown enough in her time to earn a spot with one of the top clubs in the Slovakian league.

Baran, with Ida Talanda, are the lone Polish players to play in the Slovakia women’s league for a club other than Popradské líšky. The 16-year-old suited up for Sarisanka Prešov this season. She had 23 points (14G, 9A) in 20 games, this was good for 13th in the league. It was the 4th most by any player under 18. Baran is part of the strong emerging core of superb offensive skilled players. She has already proven her abilities in the Slovakian league and I hope to see her take on more challenges in the future.

 

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

 

Top 15 Female U20 Polish Players. Part 1: 15-6

Women’s ice hockey is on the rise in Poland. There is a great mix of top veterans and young players that are leading the charge. While the World Championships and U18 event did not bring any gold this year. They played well at each tournament. They only lost two games at both, earning a Bronze medal at the World Championship. There is a huge drive within the players to get better and improve, this includes more players playing abroad. Young players have also been able to make an impact in the Polska Liga Hokeja Kobiet (PLHK), the top women’s league in Poland. These rankings are based on a mixture of a player’s current play and their potential.

Honorable Mention: Karolina Rostalska – Rostalska was one of the most improved players this season. The previous season she recorded 3 points (1G, 2A) in 11 games with UKH Biale Jastrzebie, this year she increased her production to 11 points (6G, 5A) in 16 games. This earned the 17-year-old a spot on the U18 squad for the first time. Rostalska’s huge improvement this season has me hoping we will continue to see a steady rise in her play.

15. Ida Talanda – Talanda is a solid right wing and has been able to play in the top Slovakian women’s league since she was 13-years-old. In 2017-18 She was tied for first in games played among U18 players and recorded 3 points (2G, 1A). She set a new career this year in points at 4 (1G, 3A) despite playing only 4 games.  This year at 15, she made her U18 debut for Team Poland. She was held pointless in 5 games. 

14. Alicja Wcislo – Wcislo is a two-way defensemen, who was tied in the lead for points at last year’s U18 Championships. She also had 15 points in 15 games with Polonia Bytom last year. This year Wcislo posted less strong numbers only recording 4 points in 10 games. She made her senior debut at the World Championship going pointless in 5 games. The more experience she gets at the senior level, the more we should see the offensive part return to her game.

13. Alicja Siejka – Siejka made her senior team debut this year after a U18 championship that saw her tied for the lead in points on Poland. She continued her solid play with Stoczniowiec Gdansk. Her goal count dropped from 12 to 3, but turned it on in the playoffs with 5 goals in 5 games. She was also held pointless in 5 games at the senior World Championship.

12. Anna Kot – Kot made her U18 debut this year at 14-years-old. At the event, she didn’t look out of place on defense and recorded 1 assist. She has been playing in the top Polish women’s league, since she was 12. There are still improvements needed on the defensive end, but those should easily come with time. I’m really excited to see how she comes back next year.

11. Maja Blaszkow – Blaszkow has not been able to make as much of an impact in Poland’s women league as others on the list. She has only played 8 PLHK games over the past 2 seasons. Her success has been at the U18 Championships, where she recorded 2 points this year, and one point last year. Blaszkow is only 15-years-old, but she should be on the production leaders on Poland at the U18s next year.

10. Karolina Baran – Baran had a good season with KS Cracovia 1906 in PLHK with 10 points (5G, 5A) in 15 games. For the playoffs, she switched over to PTH Kozice Poznan, where she had 4 points (2G, 2A) in 4 games. Baran also made her U18 debut this year and scored her first IIHF goal.

9. Alicja Kobus – Kobus had an outstanding season in the PLHK with 32 points (14G, 18A) in 15 games, as well as 6 points (2G, 4A) in 4 playoff games. Her 32 points were good for 6th in the PLHK. She also was above a point-per-game in 2017-18. She made her IIHF U18 debut this year, going pointless in 5 games. She was out for a lot of opportunities against and 5 goals, but at her young age losing some of those battles to older players is not that bad of a thing. I expect her to come back really improved next year.

8.Alicja Kopciara – Kopciara was a part of Poland’s top line this year at the U18s. This was her IIHF debut, like most players on the list. She finished third on Poland in points with 3 (2G, 1A). This comes after a strong season with Atomowki Tychy in the PLHK. She set a new career high in points at 5 (4G, 1A), but had an even better playoff with 5 goals in 7 games. Kopciara will also be back on what should be a really good Polish U18 team.

7. Iga Schramm – At 16-years-old, Schramm finished second in PLHK scoring, only 5 points behind Polish hockey great Karolina Pozniewska. Schramm had a total of 55 points including 38 goals in 15 games. She has already hit 100 career points in the PLHK. The previous year, Schramm had 38 points (27 G, 11A) in 10 PLHK games. She made her third U18 team this year, recording 2 assists. She also made her senior team debut at the World Championships.

6. Klaudia Kaleja – Kaleja had a dominant showing at the 2017-18 U18s recording 5 goals in 5 games. Kaleja has a ton of scoring ability and scored 9 goals in 19 games with the Poland U18 squad. In her professional career, she has 62 goals in 61 PLHK games. She played at both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 World Championships but missed this year. At 18-years-old she is already a 3-time PLHK champion.

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

Polish Hockey Has Their Next Star! 5 Thoughts 2019 Women’s Division 1 Group B u18s

The women’s U18 team had a hot start to the tournament winning their first two games, but could not overcome group favorites France and Norway. In the end, they finished 4th place this year. This group faced a lot of adversity with not a lot of players returning from the 2018 bronze medal team, especially core members. This tournament shows the next generation of Polish player is still strong.

Superstar Sikorska

When you see a player put up stats like 10 points in 5 U18 games, you can usually guess that they may be an older player who is in their final year of eligibility. It is rare for that player to have another year of eligibility. Wiktoria Sikorska has two years of eligibility left. Sikorska is the next star of Polish hockey without a doubt. In 5 games this tournament, she had 7 goals and 3 assists. She lead the tournament in goals and points while finishing tied for 2nd in the assists. Sikorska plays in the top level of women’s hockey in the Czech Republic at only 15! In 5 games this year with SK Karvina, she has 5 points. If you want to see all her goals from the U18s click here.

Defensive Struggles

This team would struggle mightily on the defensive end. They allowed the 2nd most shots in the tournament and had some struggles with breaking the puck out. This defensive unit is very young though, the average age was 15.14. This was the youngest in the tournament. Julia Zielinska was the highlight of the group. The 14-year-old showed off some nice offensive potential including this shot from the point goal against the Netherlands.

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Penalty Killers

When a team struggles defensively, you would expect their penalty kill to suffer as well. That was not the case with this Polish team. Despite spending 26 minutes and 14 seconds shorthanded, 2nd most time in the tournament, Poland only allowed one powerplay goal. That is pretty good! I must note though that both France and Norway allowed zero goals in their combined 39 plus minutes shorthanded. This may take away from stat given the weak powerplays they faced, but given defense was this team’s weakness I still think its impressive.

The Cellys

This team had some great celebrations. It was really nice to see the energy and them having fun. Enjoy

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The Future

As I mentioned earlier this team showed the next generation of Polish players is talented. Despite the team not performing the best, future core members like Julia Zielinska, Wiktoria Sikorska, and Maja Blaszkow performed well. I expect this team to come back next year very strong. The future is bright for women’s hockey in Poland.

Quick Thoughts

– Helena Grzybowska did fine in net, but she doesn’t have the game stealer ability like Sass. She is still in line to be apart of the national team for a while though

– The production of this event was terrible. Putting games behind a paywall while the top division is free is dumb. It doesn’t help the grow the game at all and the broadcast wasn’t worth it. The broadcast had no play by play for games besides Great Britain and terrible camera work.