Former KHL All-Star Pavel Padakin Signs With Unia Oswiecim

A big offseason has continued for Unia Oswiecim, and they continue to add to what should be a strength on offense. The team has now added former KHL and AHL forward Pavel Padakin. The deal is a one-year-agreement with the Ukrainian-born player.

Pavel Padakin is a player that comes with a great resume. He started representing Ukraine at the U18s when he turned 16. In 2012, he moved to North America, playing junior hockey in the NAHL and the WHL, mainly with the Calgary Hitmen. After his junior career, he signed in the AHL with the Philadelphia Flyers AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He would split his lone professional North America year between the Phantoms and the Reading Royals of the ECHL. He signed in the KHL for 2017 with HK Sochi and would spend parts of the following four seasons in the league. He posted 76 points (26G-50A-76PTS) in 206 KHL games, including an All-Star selection in 2018. He spent the most recent previous season in Austria’s top league, the ICEHL, with Dornbirner EC. He posted eight goals and six assists in 44 games with the Australian club.

Paval Padakin will be another key piece of an Oswiecim offense that will now also include the dynamic North America duo of Cichy and Szczechura. He is the second Ukrainian player to join the blue and white this offseason. Though Padakin, a native of Kyiv, has recently been representing Russian national teams at non-IIHF events.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Former Liiga Defender Olli Kaskinen Signs with GKS Tychy

Another day, another Finnish signing in the PHL. GKS Tychy has added to their defense with former Liiga defensemen Olli Kaskinen. He is the 14th Fin to sign in Poland this offseason.

The 23-year-old defender was a pretty decent prospect in Finland. He developed in the TPS junior system. He also represented team Finland at quite a few non-IIHF junior events. In 2018, he started playing at the senior level with TPS in the Liiga, playing 10 games while also playing 13 games in the Mestis on loan to TUTO Hockey. He would spend the entire 2019 season in the Liiga, playing in 53 games and recording two goals and three assists. Kaskinen would lose his role in the top league and mainly play in the U20 league over the following two seasons. He played in 79 Liiga games while putting up two goals and four assists. He spent the 2022 season away from Finland for the first time. He played in Italy in the Alps Hockey League. In 44 games with Cortina, he posted 28 points (6G-22A-28PTS).

GKS Tychy has seen a significant shift this offseason on defense. Kaskinen is the fifth defender added to the squad this offseason. The team is looking to get back to championship glory. The young Finnish defender is going to be an exciting addition. His experience sticks out on his resume, and Tychy must be hoping it will make the young defender a crucial part of their defense.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Swede Hampus Olsson Signs with GKS Katowice

The defending champions of Poland continue to gear up to repeat and compete in the Champions Hockey League (CHL). The newest move is someone who is actually a protege of one of GKS Katowice’s rivals in the CHL, as the club signed former Rögle BK winger Hampus Olsson. He is the fifth import forward the club has added this offseason.

As mentioned, Hampus Olsson developed in the Rögle BK junior system. In 2014, he got his only chance with the senior team in the HockeyAllsvenskan, playing in 13 games and recording one assist. He spent the following season in Canada’s top junior league, the Ontario Hockey League, with the North Bay Battalion. After one year in Canada, he returned to Sweden and started his professional career signing in the HockeyEttan, the third level of Swedish hockey. He played in the league with various teams from 2016 to 2021. In total, he recorded 141 points (56G-85A-141PTS) in 240 games. He moved back up to the HockeyAllsvenskan with HC Vita Hästen last season. In 50 games, he recorded five goals and six assists.

Olsson is the second Swede to join GKS Katowice this offseason after Christian Blomqvist joined earlier. Last year, the club had great success with Anthon Eriksson, who used his PHL season to get his first career deal in Sweden’s top league, the SHL.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Latvian Vitālijs Pavlovs Re-Signs With JKH GKS Jastrzebie

Great news for JKH GKS Jastrzebie supporters as the club has re-signed one of their leading scorers. Latvian forward Vitālijs Pavlovs has re-upped with the club on a one-year agreement. He finished third on the team in scoring for the 2022 season.

The 32-year-old forward has a wealth of experience in Latvia and across different Eastern European leagues. Early in his career, he played for Metalurgs Liepaja in Belarus’ top league and Latvia. He moved to the Kazakhstan league in 2012. After one strong year, he signed a KHL contract with Dinamo Riga. He would get loaned to the Mestis for most of the 2013 season. He would then play for Dinamo Riga in the KHL until 2021, except for one season in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles. In 281 KHL games, he recorded 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points. He split the 2021 season between the Latvia league and the ICEHL before landing in Poland for 2022. In his first year with JKH GKS Jastrzebie, he scored 13 goals and assisted on 31 in 54 games.

The Latvian flavor continues in JKH GKS Jastrzebie. He will be the sixth Latvian under contract. He is also a key piece to get back with how much offensive firepower the team loses. He is the only one of the club’s top five scorers to return for the 2023 season.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Former National Team Forward Kasper Bryniczka Retires

Former national team member and long-time Podhale Nowy Targ forward Kasper Bryniczka has announced his retirement. The 32-year-old played with Nowy Targ last year, posting 15 points (5G-10A-15PTS) in 35 games. He is a one-time PHL champion with Cracovia Krakow in 2010.

Bryniczka will be most remembered for his time with Podhale Nowy Targ. He was a homegrown product that played in their junior system and became a key forward for the senior team. Outside a single season at United States high school, he spent his entire career with the club until 2018. A career-high season of 33 points and his first IIHF team Poland appearance saw him sign in the offseason with Cracovia. He would play the next three years with Cracovia before returning to Podhale Nowy Targ in 2021. He played in 485 PHL games and recorded 90 goals and 150 assists. He represented Poland at the U18, U20, and senior IIHF levels.

This appears to be more bad news for Nowy Targ, as another team staple has called it a day on their career. At Polish Puck, we want to wish Kasper Bryniczka a happy retirement and the best in his future!

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Japan National Team Forward Shigeki Hitosato Signs with GKS Katowice

GKS Katowice has started to add to their roster after re-signing most of their core. After adding Swedish forward Christian Blomqvist earlier this week, the team has signed Japanese forward Shigeki Hitosato. Hitosato will be the third Japanese player to appear in Poland, Denis Akimoto played in Poland from 2019 to 2020, and Jo Araya appeared in the league during the 2015 season.

The 27-year-old forward has played his entire career in Japan. He was a standout player at Shirakaba Gakuen High and made the Japan U18 squad. He played four years of college hockey for Toyo University and was the captain of the Japan U20 team and their Universiade squad during that time. He turned pro for the 2018 season and played with the Tohoku Free Blades in the Asia league and at the Japan Cup. He posted 44 points (16G-28A-44PTS) in 30 games last year in the AL Japan Cup. This career-high performance earned his first spot on the Japan senior team at the 2022 Division 1 Group B World Championships in Poland. He would finish third in the tournament in scoring with three goals and four assists for seven points in four games. That performance obviously caught the eyes of a few in the host country.

After winning their first Championship in 50-plus years last season, Katowice has seen plenty of their talent depart in free agency. While the team was able to retain a lot of their key pieces on defense, they lost a lot on offense. The team hopes that Hitosato will be able to repeat his success at the World Championships.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Finnish Veteran Markus Korkiakoski Signs With JKH GKS Jastrzebie

JKH GKS Jastrzebie has finally got aboard the Finnish craze that has taken the rest of the PHL by storm. The team signed veteran Finnish forward Markus Korkiakoski to a one-year agreement. He is the first Fin to play for the club since 2020.

The 30-year-old forward spent last season in the Chance Liga with HC Poruba 2011, a club familiar to most Polish fans. He had been playing in the second level of Czechia since 2019 and earned two cups of coffee at the top level. Before going abroad, he had spent seven years in the second league of Finland, the Metsis. The Yli-Ii native played in 221 Metsis games, recording 129 points (49G-80A-129PTS). His production was much stronger in the Chance Liga, with 198 points (81G-117A-198PTS) in 204 games.

Jastrzebie will hope the center can continue to be a strong playmaker in Poland. After losing eight of its top ten scorers, the club has a strong need for production. While he is the only Fin on the team, he is one of eight imports. While plenty of unannounced signings are still to come, many of whom will be Polish, it is still a bit shocking to see many imports in the club. They had a golden age of young homegrown PHL talent in 2010s but haven’t been able to sustain it in the 2020s.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Nik Zupančič Named Head Coach of Unia Oswiecim

Unia Oswiecim has finally named their head coach, and it is a familiar face. The team has brought back Slovenian coach Nik Zupančič. The 53-year-old signed a two-year deal with an option for a third season.

Zupančič had a lengthy playing career that started in 1985 and lasted until 2010, including 18 years in his home country’s top league. The long-time player represented Yugoslavia at three World Championships and ten world championships for Slovenia. After his playing career ended, he would jump right into coaching. He served as the assistant coach for Slovenia from 2011 to 2015. He would take over as head coach for the national team in 2016 and lead the team until 2018. After coaching VEU Feldkirch in the Alps Hockey League for one season in 2019, he would move to Poland.

Zupančič served as the head coach for Unia Oswiecim for a year and a half. He brought in plenty of Slovenian imports in his first year and laid out his new system. It quickly transformed the club into a very skilled program. In his first season, the team finished second in the PHL and would be awarded a silver medal after the playoffs were canceled. The club had finished eighth place the previous PHL season. The considerable jump gave fans of the blue and white a lot of hope. While the team was still in the top five of the PHL next season, they did not start as strong. Midway through the 2021 season, Zupančič would step down as head coach due to family reasons, but it would also come shortly after he served a suspension after a disagreement with a ref.

I personally am excited to see the Zupančič brand of hockey back in Poland.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Robert Kalaber Signs Two Year Extension. Remains Head Coach of Poland.

Robert Kalaber is staying put as the leader of the Polish national team. Today, PZHL President Mirosław Minkina announced that Kalaber had signed a two-year extension to remain the head coach of Poland’s Men’s senior team. Kalaber helped Poland earn gold and promotion at the Division 1 Group B World Championships in May.

The 52-year-old started his coaching career in his native Slovakia. There he served as an assistant and head coach of HK Dukla Trencin. He moved over to Poland in 2015, taking over JKH GKS Jastrzebie. He has coached in Jastzrebie since that season, taking the club to a PHL Championship in 2021. In 2018, he started serving as Bulgaria’s head national team coach. Kalaber took over the Polish national team job for the 2020 season. Some highlights include beating Belarus during the final round of Olympic Qualification in 2022, winning the Baltic Challenge Cup, winning the Three Seats Tournament, and helping Poland win gold and promotion at the 2022 Division 1 Group B World Championships.

The Men’s senior team will be back in Division 1 Group A for the first time since 2018. From April 29th to May 5th, in Nottingham, Poland will take on Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, and South Korea. Poland will look to prove they still belong in Division 1, where they finished with a bronze medal in 2015 and 2016.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!

Latvian Eduards Hugo Jansons Joins JKH GKS Jastrzebie

While most teams in Poland pursue Finnish imports, and Cracovia picks up Czechs, JKH GKS Jastrzebie continues to have a heavy Latvian influence. The team inked Latvian defender Eduards Hugo Jansons to a one-year deal. The Riga native is the fourth Latvian under contact for the 2023 season.

Eduards Hugo Jansons has bounced around Eastern Europe and Russia in his short career. The defensemen bounced around professional teams in his home country during his junior days, playing for three clubs in the top level of Latvia before turning 20. Starting in 2018, he would begin playing in Russia’s second league, the VHL. In five years with four clubs, he posted 12 goals and 27 assists in 167 games. He received a KHL call-up during the 2020 season and appeared in two games with Dinamo Riga. He started last season with Dizel Penza in the VHL before moving to the Chance Liga with AZ Havířov and then ending the year in the second league of Slovakia with Vlci Zilina. Jansons represented Latvia at the IIHF U18s, World Juniors, and the senior team at plenty of non-IIHF events.

JKH GKS Jastrzebie now has four Latvians under contract, along with Lithuanian forward Mark Kaleinikovas, who spent most of his career in Latvia. The Latvian preference is not surprising after five of the team’s six leading scorers came from the Latvian league. Only two players that finished top ten in points on the team are returning for 2023. The club has to be hoping a few of these players could reproduce the success of their countrymen.

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_. Also, support us on Patreon to help keep the content flowing!