Category: Womens Hockey

Legacy Cup Shows More Signs of Progress For The Polish Women’s Senior Team

In their biggest test before the World Championship, the Women’s senior team traveled to South Korea to take on South Korea, Germany’s B team, and the Czech Republic U18 squad. While that sounds like a random assortment of teams, it gave Poland a variety of tests. Promising defensemen, Julia Zielinska made her senior debut at only 15 years old. Most of the team has played together this year with the Silesia Brackens in the Elite Women’s Hockey Leauge. The players on that team should be developing great chemistry and improving their game after competing against stronger players. While younger players have traveled beyond Poland to evolve their game. 

Game 1: Poland Defeats South Korea 4-1

South Korea took the early lead in this one after a lucky bounce off of Patrycja Sfora’s face. Poland would mostly control the rest of the game with Kamila Wieczorek recording three goals and one assist. Sass was brilliant in net. This was a big and convincing victory for Poland. They will play South Korea again in Poland at the Division 1B World Championship in April. South Korea took silver at the event last year, while Poland finished third. South Korea had beat Poland 4-3 at the event last year. South Korea is also ranked, above Poland, at 16 in the IIHF senior rankings.

Game 2: Poland Loses In Overtime to Germany B 4-3

This was Germany’s B senior team. I wasn’t even really able to find a roster online for the team. They did beat Czechia U18 and finished first in the tournament overall. Germany’s primary senior team is also the ninth-ranked team in the IIHF, so their B team can’t be too bad. This game was very winnable for Poland, and they played well. They had a few nice goals and strong chances, just couldn’t finish. Agata Kosinska got the start for Poland in this one. The first two goals against were pretty weak, but she mostly seemed to find her stride after that. Germany’s overtime goal came on a poor aggressive choice combined with an unfortunate line change. Poland looked good, but I don’t really know how to properly evaluate this game without knowing the German roster.

Game 3: Poland Loses A Close One to Czechia U18 2-1

This game was the one that feels like a harsh slap in the face back to reality. Going up against the Czech Republic’s u18 squad, Poland played well and was mostly the better team, but failed to win. Their only goal was a blast from just outside the point from Klaudia Chrapek. Sass played great in net for Poland as expected. Big picture though, the Czech Republic is the eight-ranked team in the women’s IIHF rankings. This was their U18 squad, and Poland couldn’t pull out the win.

Earlier this year, the Czechia U18 squad beat Poland U18 15-1. The Czech Republic is a top division team, and it would take close to a perfect decade for Poland to come close to catching them. Poland has been able to produce players like Kamila Wieczorek, Wiktoria Sikorska, and Julia Zielinska, who can compete with these teams, but the rest of Poland looks so far behind. These depth issues should continue to improve slowly. It will be a long time before Poland is a strong competitor in Divison 1 Group A. However, this tournament showed Poland can beat their strongest returning competitor in South Korea, and stayed competitive versus a relegated Italy earlier this year. Promotion to Division 1 Group A is possible, which is the next step.

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

The Scoring Struggle. 5 Thoughts 2020 Women’s U18 D1B World Championship

Coming into this hockey year, I predicted that both of the Polish women’s team would be able to earn promotion during 2020. Poland’s U18 team had a roster that featured almost everyone returning from the previous year. The key players were taking more huge steps in their careers and gaining valuable experience. My prediction did not occur, as Poland struggled to generate any offense during the tournament. On the final day, the offense would explode with five goals to keep Poland from being relegated. It was the best Poland played all-tournament, but how did the rest of the tournament go?

Attack on Titans

There was a huge size difference in this tournament for Poland. Going by average height, Poland was the second smallest team in this tournament. It was very noticeable at times as taller opponents were just able to push through Polish defenders. It is something that Poland can’t really fix either. It was by no means the disadvantage that lost Poland games, but it was certainly a big hurdle.

Standout Schramm

Iga Schramm made her fourth and final appearance for the Polish U18 squad and she did fantastic. She recorded two goals and two assists, which tied Sikorska for the team lead. She looked very confident rushing the puck and had a solid shot. Schramm was second on team Poland in shots with 21. The Poznan center was great in the faceoff draw as well. Schramm appears to be another solid piece towards Poland’s future.

Best In Net. Best My Chemical Romance Song.

Helena Grzybowska had an absolute standout performance in net. She faced the second-most shots in the tournament and finished with the second-highest save percentage at .948. She kept Poland in every single game of this tournament and absolutely proved that Sass is not Poland’s only goalie capable of starting. Every part of her game was impressive.

Sikorska’s Off Tournament

Wiktoria Sikorska served as captain for Poland at this tournament. It was obvious to anyone watching that she was the best player on the ice for Poland. In her first trip to the U18s she had five points, last year she had ten points, this year only four points. In a tournament, where Poland needed scoring badly their best player did not produce as expected. Sikorska will be able to represent Poland at one more U18 tournament next year.

[highlights] GREAT BRITAIN - POLAND 1_5

A Moral Victory

I don’t believe in moral victories in sports. This tournament was as close as they come through in my opinion. Poland took Austria to overtime and battled hard with Norway.

This team and sport is making progress in Poland. Their performances are getting better and better by a wide margin every year. They played so well defensively that if they were just a fraction better on offense we would be talking about Poland’s first gold medal team of the 2019-20 season.

Quick Thoughts

– This was one of the best defensive performances by any Polish team in recent memory. They were very good limiting at high danger chances.

– Julia Zielinska had some ups and downs this tournament, but her highs showed why she is the future of Poland on defense

– Ida Talanda has some potential and could make for an interesting prospect.

– eight departures from the team are coming, most of them having spent two or three tournaments on the U18 squad. Both goalies are also leaving. This will be a really different team next year and Poland women’s hockey will hopefully show a lot of growth.

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

Losses to France and Four Nations Tournament Show Growth and Massive Steps Left for Women’s Hockey in Poland

The Women’s U18 team was quite busy the last few weeks playing three exhibition games against France, along with competing in a four nations cup tournament in Great Britain. Against a much stronger French opponent, Poland did drop all three of their games with a goal differential of -11 for Poland. In the Four Nations tournaments against competition in Poland’s range, they finished second after losing to Great Britain on the final day of the tournament. They will have a rematch against the British U18 team in just a couple months at the IIHF U18 Division 1 Group B World Championships.

The games against France were a massive test for the Polish squad. This U18 team has a couple of big names on the roster with Wiktoria Sikorska and Julia Zielinska leading the charge. Sikorska is the future of the Polish national team and has a chance in the next couple of years to be considered the best women’s player in Poland. Julia Zielinska is a defenseman that is mature beyond her years. She turns 15 in December and already plays in the second-best senior league in Finland. They are players that are more than ready and able to take on France with ease compared to the rest of the Polish roster.

This tournament was a good way to see who Poland has after them that has the potential to really make those next big steps. In total Poland lost all three games, but really kept two of them competitive. The first meeting was a three to nothing defeat, while the second was four to one. The final game was a six to one loss. These games showed that Poland could stay competitive with a team like France though. France is ranked tenth in the IIHF Women’s rankings which is a lot higher than Poland at 22. They are also in the division above 1B. If Poland were to earn a promotion, France is a team they could possibly play.

When a team gets promoted in international hockey there is always a concern on how they will actually fare in that division. A lot of times that team is quickly dispatched besides one game against the other bottom-dwelling team. France has been that team in Division 1A. Despite the division’s short history, they have been relegated once already and it took them two tries to return to Division 1A. There is a large gap between Division 1A and 1B where Poland resides. If France is still a big task for Poland the rest of D1A should be considered massive challenges.

The Four Nations Tournament was a more evenly balanced tournament for Poland. In fact, they were the highest-ranked team in the tournament. I should note that IIHF rankings are for the senior division only, but I do believe they’re a solid indication of the junior divisions. Most of the time they almost match the senior rankings exactly. Despite Poland being considered the favorite it was not an easy weekend for the Eagles.

The first game saw Poland take on a U20 Iceland squad. Iceland does not a women’s U18 team, so they brought a u20 squad. This was probably to the benefit of everyone in the tournament as it gave them a much more competitive roster. That said Poland was still able to beat them easily seven to one. Iceland is only ranked 32nd in the World and this was by far the easiest opponent in the tournament for Poland. With that in mind, I was hoping to see more production out of players outside of the top lines on Poland produce, but it was mostly the Sikorska and Zielinska show.

The second game of the tournament saw Poland take on Spain. Spain is in the division right below Poland. They played a very well structured game. They have been on the outskirts of Division 1B for the past few seasons never winning promotion in the qualifying games, but a growing program and I expect they’ll be able to finally earn promotion to Division 1B this year. The game saw Poland mostly have control and lead three to nothing after two periods. They didn’t stay aggressive though and collapsed in the third period allowing Spain to make a comeback. In the end, Poland had to take it to the shootout to get the win. The biggest takeaway from this game is a learning experience. These players can’t just hold on to a lead against any opponent. They need to keep their game up for all three periods.

The final game is the most interesting as Poland will have that rematch with Great Britain at the D1B U18 IIHF Championship in January. Poland held a two-goal lead in this game at one point, but would allow four unanswered goals that gave Great Britain the four to two win. Poland did win the shot advantage and played well, but what killed the team were some costly turnovers and penalties. I would say three of Great Britain’s goals could have been completely avoided if not for Polish mistakes.

This is how players learn though. Poland didn’t play poorly in any of these games, there were just mistakes that can and should be corrected. Across the six games, Sikorska showed that she is the real deal with three goals and six assists. Julia Zielinka also played well at both ends and recorded three goals and five assists. The top two players were there and produced. The team after them though is the concern. Maja Blaszkow was able to stand out and scored four goals in the six games, including a hattrick against Iceland. Karolina Baran provided some solid production and strong play. Goaltending was fine, but nothing overly special.

These tournaments showed that Poland is a very competitive team that can play aggressive. They’re going dictate how the game is played. There are correctable mistakes that should go away with more experience. The bigger problem facing Poland right now though is the lack of depth. The depth is steadily improving but not as fast as Poland is producing top players. There are large gaps of skill in Poland’s own roster. That gap can go both ways as top players can keep them in a game they have no business being in, but also have them lose games they have no reason to lose. There is a lot to like about the future of the women’s team, but massive steps still need to be taken.

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

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.

zawadzka-foto3a_1484813800_3800.jpg

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.

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.

sass

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.

giphy (3)

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.

5c8f7f63e0cbe_p

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