Tag: Anna Sencerz

2022 Top 50 Women’s U20 Players. #30-21

After much delay, we are back to ranking the top women’s U20 players from the 2022 season. This group is starting to show the potential depth that Poland has developed. There still remains a massive gap between the leaders of Poland and the rest of the team, but we are seeing that gap close more and more. Especially when you look at this group, some players might join that top group of forwards.

Players had to be under the age of 20 and at least 13 years old on September 12th, 2022. We are only judging play that occurred before that date as well. Players are evaluated based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. Skaters must have played at least five games to be considered. While most of the ranking is my opinion, numerous Polish hockey people contributed their thoughts on players. 113 players were considered for the list and reviewed. Fifty players received a ranking.

Players 50-31

30 – Weronika Huchel (F), 15, Atomowki Tychy (40, +10

Huchel had a significant stock-raising year. After a pointless regular season in 2021, she stepped up with seven goals and five assists in 18 games. Huchel suited up for the U18 squad throughout the year. Her strong performance in the PLHK and non-IIHF events made her make the Polish U18 squad for the September tournament. This was her first appearance for Poland U18 and made her a lock for the 2023 tournament. She possesses very solid puck-control skills and offensive awareness.

Huchel Goal vs. Jastrzębie. PLHK

29  – Anna Sencerz (F), 14, Stoczniowiec Gdansk (NR) 

Sencerz might be the next young breakout star of Gdansk. The young forward had 10 points (3G-7A-10PTS) in 14 games, and she added two more points in six playoff games. Her 12 total points finished tied for sixth among all U18 players. Easily someone who immediately jumps on the list of forwards to start watching to be leaders for the U18 squad.

28 – Nikola Isztok (D), 15, KS Cracovia 1906 (35, +7)

Isztok has jumped on the radar recently and seems to possess the potential to be an impactful national team defenseman. She looked good at the U18s in her first IIHF appearance. During her club season, she posted a goal and three assists in 12 games for Cracovia. Her impressive season at 14 earned her a chance with Polonia Bytom. Isztok should undoubtedly be one of the leading defensemen on the U18 squad going forward. She could be the quarterback the Polish powerplay needs.

Isztok assist vs. Spain. International Exhibition

27 – Julia Bujak (G), 18, Polonia Bytom, (19, -8

The ability to judge goalies in Poland is challenging. You barely get any playing time to see a goalie play. Bujak appeared in three games this year for Polonia Bytom, playing 30 minutes in two games and 50 minutes in the other. She stopped 20 of the 21 shots she faced in that limited action for a .952 save percentage. She made the Polish U18 squad as a backup but did not see any action. Still, Bujak slides into the second-highest-ranked goalie spot on our list. She did start for Poland at non-IIHF games and put in a decent performance at an exhibition tournament in Iceland, stopping 65 shots in three games.

Julia Bujak save vs. Iceland. International Exhibition

26 – Amelia Bula (F), 18, Naprzod Janow, (30, +4

Bula has steadily improved her offensive production in the PHLK. After 12 points in 15 games last year, she averaged over a point per game this year with 18 points in 15 games. Her 14 regular season goals were tied for eighth among U20 skaters. She joined Unia Oswiecim for the playoffs and recorded two goals and three assists in six games. Bula was also finally able to make her IIHF debut, playing four games at the Division 1 Group B World Championships. Given her age, I was hoping she would be an offensive leader for the team, but she recorded zero points or shots during the tournament.  

Bula goal vs. Iceland. International Exhibition

25 – Weronika Świątek (F), 14, PTH Kozice Poznan (NR) 

Świątek makes her debut on the list after a great season at just 13 years old. She was a crucial part of the five forwards that helped the Poznan offense stay afloat. In 2022, she scored ten goals and assisted on nine in 16 games. She is moving over to Gdansk for the 2022-23 season; hopefully, that should continue to add to her development. 

24 – Agata Cybulska (F), 14,  PTH Kozice Poznan (NR) 

Cybulska was another key young player for Poznan and had a fantastic year at just 13 years old. In 22 games, she scored nine goals and assisted on 15. That is a tremendous year and looks to paint a bright picture for the future. Now a bit of that production probably won’t continue on a stronger team, as she wouldn’t play as much due to stronger talent. Still, Cybulska is another solid piece to watch for Poland’s future. 

Cybulsak goal vs. Podhale. PLHK

23 – Julia Grzelak (D), 18, Stoczniowiec Gdansk (41, +18) 

Grezlak will not play in 2022-23 with Gdansk to focus on her studies. It is a shame, as she had a massive breakout season to drive up our rankings. She posted 13 goals in just 14 games during the regular season, but only recorded a single assist in six games in the playoffs. I wanted to see more of her in 2023 to see which was the true season and how high the ceiling was. 

22 – Katarzyna Zaborska (D), 19, Unia Oswiecim (15, -7

Zaborska found herself in a good spot last year and played in 13 games with Metropolis Katowice in the EWHL. She fell down the depth chart in 2022 and only played two games with Poland’s EWHL club. She spent most of her season with Unia Oswiecim, where she posted a new career high of eight points (4G-4A-8PTS) in 17 games. A solid defenseman with two-way potential, I think she will begin to be on the cusp of the national teams’ defensive depth.

21 – Olga Jaskulska (F), 17, Stoczniowiec Gdansk, (26, +5)

A much improved year for Jaskulska, as she went from just two PLHK points to 17. During the regular season, she averaged a point per game with 16 points (7G-9A-16PTS) in 16 games. She would add one more goal to her total during three playoff games. She will be focusing on her studies this upcoming year and not be with Gdansk. 

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5 Thoughts: 2023 Women’s Division 1 Group B U18s. Second Silver.

For the second time this hockey season, we saw Poland’s women’s U18 team compete at an IIHF event. This was a much different group from the one we saw in September. The U18 squad lost some stars and legends of the program, like Anna Kot, Alicja Mota, and Julia Zielinska. That team we saw in September took home silver and felt like they were inches from gold. For Poland to replicate or improve on their success, they would need more jumps by the new core or some amazing debuts. Would they get either in this five-team tournament?

Poland started off the tournament with a match against familiar foe South Korea. Poland immediately proved why they should be a tournament favorite with a 6-0 victory, including two goals from Stepien. This was the first sign of the new offensive leaders stepping up in big ways. In their second game, Poland got their biggest test with Denmark. After a rough second period, Poland would fall in this one 3-1. The tournament’s story was Danish goalie Caroline Bjergstad, who stopped 90 shots of the 93 she faced. This included a 36-save game against Poland. With Poland likely eliminated from the tournament, it could have been easy for them to give up. Instead, they kept their foot on the gas and would win their final games against Spain and Chinese Taipei, both 4-0. This would give Poland a second straight silver medal, but this time with 10 more goals scored and five fewer allowed.

3 Shutouts

Nadia Ratajczyk had a solid showing at the last tournament, but there was room for improvement. There is not much more to improve on when you post three shutouts in four games! It was a great performance for the young goalie. Now in the three shutouts, she only faced 36 shots, including only seven vs. South Korea. Still, often times we see goalies let in a soft one during low-shot-faced games in IIHF tournaments, but Ratajczyk stayed sharp the whole time. It was a great tournament for Poland’s top goaltending prospect, who finished with a .949 SV%.

Nadia Ratajczyk saves vs Chinese Taipei

Finally Finishing

In the previous tournament, Poland had many chances but could not finish. They finished with a shooting percentage below four percent. It was the biggest reason Poland missed out on gold, and lost a rough game vs Chinese Taipei in 2022. This year Poland came out strong and buried their opponents below them, with final scores of 6-0 and 4-0 twice. This game gave them an 8.25 shooting percentage on 177 shots. This was good for second in the tournament, but there is still some work to do. When it mattered most, Poland only scored one goal on 37 shots versus Denmark.

14-year-old Stars

A sign that work has already started was a pair of 14 years olds who came up big for Poland. Anna Sencerz and Matylda Stępień both stepped up and helped deliver strong performances to boost Poland’s offense. Matylda Stępień is someone I was hoping would provide that spark, as she scored over 40 points last year for Ponzan in the PLHK. In 2023, she is playing in the top women’s league in Czechia for HC Falcons Sokol Karviná. In the tournament, she scored three goals on 19 shots. Her three goals were tied for the lead on team Poland and third in the tournament. Sencerz has been a rapidly developing forward for Gdansk. In this tournament, she scored one goal and assisted on another. Her two points were tied for fifth on the team. Both young players helped make this Polish offense the strongest in the tournament.

Matylda Stępień Goal vs. Spain

The Captain and Brzezińska Bombs

The true leaders of that strong offense were Maja Brzezinska and Justyna Zyla. Brzezinska tied for the lead in points and goals on Poland with three goals and one helper. The talented forward from Gdansk also fired off a team-leading 27 shots on goal. This was the highest amount of shots on goals by any individual in the tournament. Brzezinska already represents Poland at the senior level in the IIHF as well. She showed in this tournament that she has already outgrown the U18 level, and I think she may outgrow playing in Poland soon. While the captain has already outgrown Poland and is playing in Sweden. Justyna Żyła, the captain, also had a really great tournament. She tied Brzezinska for the lead in points with two goals and two assists for four points. Both are really going to be a large part of the core of Poland’s next generation.

What’s Next Now?

After back-to-back silver medals, the obvious goal for next year will be gold. Poland will not have too many departures, but they will be key players. Starting goalie Nadia Ratajczyk will have aged out after two runs as the starter. Captain Justyna Żyła, Maja Brzezińska, Julia Skręt, and Natalia Nosal will also all not be able to return. Still, that means you return so much of your roster that it paints a bright picture for next year. Finding out who will be the next goalie to take on the starter role will be the biggest thing for Poland to answer. The offense could be the best we have ever seen from the red and white.

Quick Thoughts

  • Poland’s 15 goals scored were the second most in team history, impressive with only four games
  • 3 goals is the least amount of goals allowed in the tournament by Poland, still impressive but also only with four games.
  • Natalia Nosal has now had two strong tournaments showing poise in each zone. She recorded one goal and two assists in four games in this tournament. I really like to see development on defense.
  • Patrycja Wójcik has a lot of potential as a stay-at-home defenseman and her development continues to grow solidly.
  • Magdalena Lapies is really going to be a special forward for Poland. There was so much talent at this tournament to talk about.

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!