Category: Women’s Hockey

On to the Worlds… 5 Thoughts Women’s Olympic Qualification

For the first time in their young history, the Polish women’s senior team found themselves with Olympic hopes. They headed into the final round of Olympic qualification with their heads held high after an upset win over the Netherlands. This meant Poland would face top competition, the best they have ever faced. Poland is currently 19th ranked in the world, while their competition was Czechia (7th), Hungary (10th), and Norway (13th).

Everyone expected blowouts going in, but that doesn’t make them easier to watch. In the end, Poland dropped all three games by a decent margin. Poland lost to Hungary 11-1, then Czechia 16-0, before the final that Norway took 7-1. It was a sobering experience for a program that experienced so many highs recently. A reminder that while women’s hockey in Poland is expanding at a rapid rate, there is a lot left to do. 

A hot start at least. 

In a tournament where Poland had a goal margin of negative -32 would you believe me that Poland held an early lead in their first game. This was thanks to a Julia Zielinska shot that resulted in a great rebound for Wiktoria Sikorska. Through half a period, Poland had not allowed a goal and was able to take a lead. Hungary would finish the period with a 3-1 lead. The red and white also managed 8 shots on goal which would be the most a period for Poland in a tournament. It was one of the few periods that showed Poland had a chance to stay competitive. 

TV Stars

It is not often that hockey in Poland gets to be televised. There are maybe a few PHL games that get broadcasted, while the Men’s national team also usually sees its larger games reach the nation. This time both rounds of the women’s Olympic qualification were on TV, I believe these are the first women’s national team games to be on TVP Sport. Hopefully inspiring the next generation to take up hockey! While the ratings were not great, at an average of 25K for the final round. The games where Poland won in the previous round did over 60,000 and 80,000 respectively. If you want to get viewers in Poland you have to win. 

The Young Core

By the time the next Olympic cycle comes around in 2026. 16 members of this team will be 28-years-old or younger, 5 being U23 still. The young players were a key part of the team. Sikorska was one of only two goal scorers while leading Poland in shots with 10. Zielinska recorded an assist while leading Polish defensewomen in shots. Ida Talanda centered the bottom lines, and Lapies was able to make the team at just 15-years-old. 

Sass 

Sass has always been team Poland’s savior. Keeping them in games they have no reason to be in. That was still true for this tournament. Sass faced over 125 shots, the most in the tournament by over 25. She allowed 25 goals in 3 games. 7 of the goals against came when Poland was shorthanded. I mean when the shot chart looks like this. What are you supposed to do? 

On to the Worlds 

After the tournament, coach Ivan Bednar told IIHF.com, “I’m very pleased with how we played here this week, we knew what we were coming into when we qualified for this group, and that it was going to be a difficult task and I think we handled the situation well.”

Again everyone expected the blowouts, it hurts to see. But the growth of the women’s side in Poland has happened so quickly. It is crazy you still have members of the first team to play IIHF events playing with players like Sikorska and Zielinska who play in leagues probably thought to be decades away at one point. More and more young Polish players are getting chances outside Poland as well. The EWHL and strong programs continue to develop players in-house. Playing deep in the Olympic qualifiers is a new high for Poland. 

We now move on to the Worlds for this group. Poland will be facing much more even competition. Italy (16th), Korea (17th), China (20th), Kazakhstan (21st), and Slovenia (23rd). The last time we saw this group play at the Worlds, they took Bronze. I would say that is the expectation with a goal of silver.  

Quick Thoughts 

  • For the tournament, we saw two new coaches behind the Polish bench. Former national team and Gdansk player Joanna Detmer stepped in as an assistant coach. While former Slovak Tipsport Liga goalie Lubomir Babura was the team goalie’s coach. 
  • Other staff news, congrats to former GKS Katowice goalie Kamil Berggruen on his first IIHF role as equipment manager. 
  • I am not one to ever care about faceoffs, but both Pozniewska and Wieczorek managed to stay at or get close to .500. This is surprising given how most of Czechia and Hungary were 60% or more. 
  • Tetiana Onyshchenko was not present for this tournament. The Ukrainian forward is believed to be picking up Polish citizenship. 
  • Sorry for not posting and for late posts recently. A new job and life after college does not afford me the same writing time.

If you want to keep up with all the Polish hockey action, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey, like our Facebook page, and add us on Instagram @PolishPuck_.

How To Watch All the Polish National Team Action This Week

Almost all levels of Poland’s national team will be in action this weekend! It is so fun to be back in a place where tournaments are being played that has a lot of meaning to them. Right now there is a lot at stake. Olympic hopes are on the line. Along with spots on future national teams that will be representing Poland at IIHF events. It is good to be back everyone!

The highest stake matchups of this week will see the Women’s Senior team head over to Czechia to participate in the final round of Olympic Qualification. Win this tournament and a ticket is booked to the Winter Olympics. These are without a doubt the biggest games in the history of the women’s team. The Men’s senior team will also be in action playing in the Baltic Challenge Cup. An exhibition tournament that will see Poland bring an extremely young roster as Robert Kalaber aims to test some new blood for the national team. Ahead of their first IIHF tournaments in almost 2 years, the Men’s U20 will be active as well with one of the final tune-ups before the U20 World Championships start in December. Both the Men’s and Women’s U18 squads will also be in action as they prepare for tournaments at the end of the year. Along with last but not least the Men’s U16 team will also be playing some exhibition games.

When is the action happening? Where will you be able to watch all the matchups? We got those answers here!

Women’s Senior Team. Final Round of Olympic Qualification

Nov. 11th – Poland vs Hungary. 12:00 PM (CET/POL) 6:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Poland – TVP SPORTS (TV) North America – Olympics Channel (Stream)

Nov 13th – Poland vs Czechia. 4:00 PM (CET/POL) 10:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Poland – TVP SPORTS (TV) North America – Olympics Channel (Stream)

Nov 14th – Norway vs Poland. 4:00 PM (CET/POL) 10:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Poland – TVP SPORTS (TV) North America – Olympics Channel (Stream)

We will update Olympic Channel streams as links are available. All will be posted by the IIHF here.

Men’s Senior Team. Baltic Challenge Cup

Nov. 11th – Poland vs. Lithuania. 2:00 PM (CET/POL) 8:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 12th – Poland vs. Latvia. 2:30 PM (CET/POL) 8:30 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 13th – Estonia vs. Poland. 6:00 PM (CET/POL) 12:00 PM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Men’s U20 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 13th – Poland vs. Ukraine. 7:00 PM (CET/POL) 1:00 PM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 14th – Poland vs. Ukraine. 11:10 AM (CET/POL) 5:10 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Men’s U18 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 13th – Poland vs Ukraine. 1:00 PM (CET/POL) 7:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 14th – Poland vs Ukraine. 4:00 PM (CEST/POL) 10:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Women’s U18 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 11th – Poland vs. Iceland. 8:30 PM (CEST/POL) 3:30 PM (EST/NA)

Watch: IHI Youtube Stream

Nov. 12th – Poland vs. Great Britain. 5:30 PM (CET/POL) 12:30 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: IHI Youtube Stream

Nov. 13th – Poland vs. Spain. 4:15 PM (CET/POL) 11:15 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: IHI Youtube Stream

Men’s U16 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 12th – Poland vs. Hungary. 4:40 PM (CET/POL) 10:40 AM (EST/NA)

Nov. 13th – Poland vs. Hungary. 11:00 AM (CET/POL) 5:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Stream unknown. If games are streamed it will most likely be on the Hungary Federation Youtube channel.

The Next Big Step! 5 Thoughts Women’s Olympic Qualification

The Olympic qualification tournaments are weird. You play three games, if you’re a top 20 team, two of those games are frankly meaningless in a way. The Olympic qualifiers always provide plenty of blowouts. You spend the first two games comparing the blowout scores by the winners trying to see if you can see what team has an edge for final game. Poland beat Turkey 12-0, but the Netherlands destroyed Turkey 23-0, on the other hand Poland beat Mexico 8-1, while the Netherlands only beat them 7-1. There is not much to gain from either result in terms of picking a winner. Poland would be your grand prize winner in the end taking down the Netherlands with a score of 3-2 after some late game action.

For Poland this is a big step for the women’s team and has been a long time coming. It is the first time the women’s team will get to play at the final round of qualification for the Olympics. While Olympic hopes are there, the goal in that next round is not to advance. As that has almost no chance of happening unfortunately, the goal will be to stay competitive with Czechia (IIHF Rank:7), Hungary (9), and Norway (13). In August, Poland lost 5-3 to Norway, and 4-2 to Slovakia (15). It is hard to see them pulling off upsets against Czechia and Hungary. This experience will be valuable though for younger players, and vindication for older players that all they worked to build is starting to come to fruition.

Passing of the Torch or Hattrick

One of the coolest moments of the tournament to me was what happen against Turkey. While the game was a blowout, two players in the game netted hattricks. The longtime face of the women’s team and the GOAT of hockey in Poland, Karolina Pozniewska, scored 3 goals. The next face of the national team and a player that reached heights no other Pole has, Wiktoria Sikorska, also put up three goals. They played on a line together, both scoring and assisting on each’s others 3rd period goals against the Netherlands. It was a very cool moment to see two players that have had such an impact on Polish hockey sharing the ice.

Legit Łąpieś

Normally I try not to talk about players that are under 16-years-old. This is out of a belief that hockey should be fun for players that young, without having to worry about that much pressure. There have to be exceptions to that rule, especially with players like Magdalena Łąpieś who make senior squads at the age of 15. It has already been a great year for the 15-year-old forward, not only making her senior IIHF debut, but also getting four games in the EWHL with Metropolis Katowice. The sky is the limit for Łąpieś, whom is Poland’s newest junior star. One thing is for sure though, she is already legit and competition at the U18s should be scared.

The EWHL Difference

The EWHL project is one that I’m very supportive of. For those that don’t know the EWHL is the European Women’s Hockey League. It consist of teams from mainly Austria and Hungary with squads from Kazakhstan, Poland, and Slovakia as well. This allows Poland’s best players to get a lot more games against stronger players from around Europe. We have not really been able to see the effects from the EWHL due to the pandemic, but in the first big IIHF event since the team was formed. They pulled off a slight upset win and stayed competitive earlier in the year. Is that just development of Poland’s team outside the EWHL or has that experience really helped the rest of the squad? Probably a mixture of both if were being honest. When Poland host the World Championships in April, we will get a better idea.

Late Game Heroics

What a final period it was for Poland, they came in down 1-0. Then after 10 minutes, Netherlands doubled it up on them making it 2-0. Usually if you haven’t figured out a goalie with that little time left and down multiple goals it all starts to look a little bleak. Less than three minutes later though, Poland would finally break through.

The top line wouldn’t be done either yet. Just about a minute later, Sikorska would tie it up for Poland. All the momentum had completely switched. One team playing scared and the other charging down the ice. Every player on the Polish side wanting to live out the dream of scoring the game winning goal. Klaudia Chrapek would be the one to do it, only 18 seconds after Poland tied it.

The Sikorska Era

Poland’s women team has been playing in international events since 2011. Outside their first tournament, where Magdalena Szynal posted an astounding 20 points in just 4 games. Every World Championship and Olympic qualifier since 2012, was lead in points by Karolina Późniewska. Only ever even being tied for the lead in points once. In this tournament Karolina Późniewska finished with 5 points, it was third on team Poland. Kamila Wieczorek finished second with seven points, while Sikorska finished first with nine. Sikorska has become only the third player to lead team Poland in points at an IIHF event. She is the future of hockey in Poland and her era is beginning to start.

Quick Thoughts

– Just take it in.

– Julia Zielinska continues to get better and better offensively. It is really hard to know what ceiling would be on her career, if there even is one.

– Sass continues to be a brick wall in net. A great effort in both games she played, allowing just thee goals across 120 minutes.

– Wieczorek was amazing at this tournament. Finishing second on team Poland in points, the first time she had more points than Pozniewska. Still only 24 and already a veteran of the national team.

– A huge thank you to Women’s Sports Replay for clipping the goals in the tournament. Make sure to toss them a follow.

If you want to keep up with all the Polish hockey action, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey, like our Facebook page, and add us on Instagram @PolishPuck_.