Tag: Igor Smal

2019 Poland U20 World Championship Roster Prediction

Recently the U20 National team revealed their roster for the final grouping before the U20 World Championship in Ukraine from December 12th to the 18th. This year the U20 team has had an interesting journey to the World Championship. Poland U20 is going to be very young this year and has tried out a few combinations for lines and rosters. In the past few years, Poland has not been able to earn promotion despite talents like Alan Łyszczarczyk, Bartomiej Jeziorski, Dominik Pas, and others leading the team. This year Poland u20 may have their biggest star in a while as potential NHL draft pick Jakub Lewandowski could represent the team. Adam Kiedewicz is not listed on the roster, and this cast doubt on him ever representing Poland again in his career. Today we make our picks though on what players will be on the ice in red and white for the U20 World Championship.

Forwards

Kamil Walega- Jan Soltys – Jakub Lewandowski

Damian Tyczynski – Igor Smal  – Ernest Bochnak

Jakub Prokurat – Konrad Filipek – Maciej Witan

Jan Krzyzek – Kacper Gruzla – Mateusz Ubowski

Extra: Mateusz Bezwinski

This offense has a lot of talent. The top line could honestly rival the Alan Łyszczarczyk, Bartomiej Jeziorski, and Dominik Pas line that torn up the U20 World Championships a couple years ago. Walega and Lewandowski may be a bit one dimensional at times, but Soltys plays a complete game that will really benefit the line. It won’t be needed much, though, as this line will continuously be driving offense. The second line brings a lot of unique experiences and offensive potential. All three players have excelled in different places, Tyczynski tore up junior leagues in Slovakia, Igor Smal has been impressive at the senior level in Poland, while Bochnak has earned professional chances in the Czech Republic. The bottom lines still provide a lot of solid depth, size, and a chance at production. Bottom six production is something that Poland has been missing for a long time.

Defensemen

Szymon Bieniek – Klaudiusz Libik

Patryk Gosztyla – Armen Khoperia

Adrian Duszak- Michal Narog

Extra: Bartosz Florczak

There were not too many tough choices here, and there are four returners to the roster on defense. The defense lacked two big things experience and production last year. Everyone is now a year older and should have gained plenty of experience. While the production remains to be seen. Bieniek, Libik, and Narog can all make a significant impact on the offensive end. Florczak is included as my extra because of that. The 16-year-old is very talented and could provide offensively if needed. Libik and Bieniek have a chance to be two of the best defensemen ever for Poland, though the bar is pretty low. Poland has never had outstanding offensive defensemen, with Pawel Dronia being the highlight of this decade. Libik and Bieniek could change that.

Goalies

Sebastian Lipinski

Maciej Miarka

The same goaltending duo as last year and no need to change it. Lipinski is the best junior goalie that Poland has, and Miarka isn’t far behind. Lipinski had a great showing at the U20 World Championship last year, while Miarka put on a show at the U18 World Championships. I would expect Lipinski to play four of the games, but Miarka to get at least one.

Conclusion

This team has a lot of potential. They could be the team that earns Poland promotion after four straight silver medals. The group has a lot of speed and skill. They are going to be able to outsmart their opponent and dictate how the game is played. This is a very young squad, and if the defense falters, it could be disastrous for the team. Lipinski posted a .938% last year for Poland and that still wasn’t enough. Poland really needs the defense to stop opponents from getting high danger chances and providing some help on offense.

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“Stronger Every Year” 2019-20 PHL Team Previews: LOTOS PKH Gdansk

Leading up to the start of 2019-20 season, we will preview every team in the PHL

Every year since Gdansk made their PHL debut in 2016, they continue to build a better team than the year before. This year is no exception to that, in part due to their new sponsor of Lotos. The team lost a few key players in goaltender Evan Cowley and defensemen Matej Cunik and Robin Maly. Gdansk more than replaced them with a few new imports. The most significant additions though may have come late in the season last year after signing a couple of former Opole players after they left the team. Some new faces and a full-season of some top imports could push Gdansk up the standings again.

Forwards

Alexander Golovin Vladislav Yelakov – Jan Steber

Josef VítekPetr Polodna – Mateusz Danieluk

Yegor Rozhkov – Igor Smal – Szymon Marzec

Filip Pesta – Jakub Stasiewicz – Krystian Mocarski

Other forwards: Bartosz Woloszyk, Pavel Popov

Alexander Golovin and Vladislav Yelakov both came over from Opole midseason. Golovin increased his production, but Yelakov saw his scoring drop from a 1.28 PPG to 1.09. Yelakov was originally on pace to be a top-five scorer in the PHL, and Gdansk will need him to score at that pace again. Jan Steber should fill in right beside the two very nicely, he is still an impact player in the PHL. Josef Vitek (38) and Petr Polodna (37) are both great veteran players that can provide secondary scoring. Igor Smal is a future star, and this year he should start to be relied on a fair amount. There are a lot of veteran players, seven out of the thirteen forwards are 33 or older, and possible declines will always happen eventually.

Defensemen

Ladislav Havlik – Yan Krasovsky

Vlastimil Bilcik – Konstantin Teslyukevich

Damian Szurowski – Tomasz Pastryk

Other defensemen: Gilbert Lesniak, Michal Narog,  Oskar Lehmann

The defense features all-around solid players being led by Ladislav Havlik and Yan Krasovsky. Havlik is a veteran of over 100 Tipsports Extraliga games at just 27-years-old, he previously played in the PHL with GKS Tychy recording 23 points (6-17-23) in 62 games. Krasovsky has played over 200 games in the VHL. He arrived late into last season for Gdansk recording 12 points (5-7-12) in 22 games. Its better than last year, but not a vast improvement.

Goalies

Tomas Fucik

Mateusz Studzinski

Wiktor Solinski

Tomas Fucik will be a nice replacement for Evan Cowley. While Cowley had quite the impact in his short time, Fucik showed before that he can be a starter in the PHL during his time with JKH GKS Jastrzebie. He didn’t have the greatest time in the Tipsports Liga last year posting a .907 SV%, but in the relegation play, he recorded a .946 SV%. It may be hard to beat Cowley’s play, but Fucik should be more than fine. Mateusz Studzinski is an excellent choice for a backup. He was quite the junior goalie, but his jump to the PHL has been a bit of a struggle.

Prediction: 8th

While Gdansk continues to improve as a team, their improvement this year wasn’t as good as other teams. The mid-tier of the PHL continues to get better and better, Gdansk is one of those teams improving it. This year though some teams made some significant moves to leapfrog Gdansk, while also considering the potential decline of veterans leaves Gdansk as my team finishing 8th this year.

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2019 Top 50 Polish Men’s U23 Players. #26-21

Despite all that seems to go wrong in Polish hockey the light at the end of the tunnel has been the amount of great young talent that Poland has in their system right now. This is the deepest depth of young talent Poland has had this century. Regardless of what happens in regards to management and coaching with the talent that Poland has coming, they should be able to push forward. In this list, I wanted to rank Poland’s young talent to create a better picture of what the future look likes. This is part 2 of the series as we look at the players ranked 26 through 21.

Players 50-45

Players 44-39

Players 38-33

Players 32-27

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team

#26 – Marcin Plachetka (F), 18, JKH GKS Jastrzebie U20. I like to judge players more on their club season than IIHF and international events. Plachetka was the 6th leading scorer on SMS PZHL Katowice and 10th in point per game among players in Poland’s U20 league. Both of these are impressive feats, but he is ranked above many of the players who finished above him. This is because of just how impressive Plachetka was during his stint with Poland U18. In the four exhibition games before the U18 World Championship, Plachetka managed two goals and two assists. Then at the U18s, he had two goals and three assists in five games. He was consistently Poland’s best forward. Whether that was killing penalties or being trusted with top offensive roles. 

 

 

#25 – Jakub Michalowski (D), 21, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. One of Poland’s finest young defensive defensemen. Michalowski has already earned a full-time defensive role in the PHL. He played a lot with the national team this year, getting five games at non-IIHF events. Michalowski’s biggest battle will be beating out other defensemen for a spot on team Poland. He is a strong skater, and he can shut down any opposing top line. His lack of offensive skills will hurt him as Poland continues to move more and more towards two-way defensemen. Michalowski has shown some decent puck skills, but not a threat to rush the puck. The strongest credit to him and why I would like to see more of him at the top level is the ability to break the puck out.

#24 – Dominik Jarosz (LW), 21, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. Long regarded as one of the best young players in Poland Jarosz has been representing Poland at IIHF events since he was 16. He always played above his age and at high levels for his age. This made his transition to the top level of hockey in Poland during 2015-16 season expected. At 20-years-old he has already played 154 regular season and playoff games in the PHL. He has been a good player in the PHL, that always feels like a candidate to break out offensively. He continues to be outproduced though by other younger PHL forwards like teammates Dominik Pas or Jan Soltys. Jarosz has a lot of the key abilities that Poland is looking for in forwards; speed and size. He already is good enough to make team Poland with his game away from the puck and was given those chances by Valtonen this year. If Jarosz can begin to produce offensively at a higher level, he would easily be a top 6 forward for Poland for years to come.

#23 – Olaf Bizacki (D), 20, GKS Tychy. Bizacki is a special defenseman with a complete toolset. He just needs to keep maturing his game. He has been named the best player on team Poland at the U18s, and the best defensemen at the 2018-2019 Division 1B U20 Championship. He has been one of the top players for Poland at the junior levels. The next step in his game is just to improve his all-around skill set against men’s teams. He will continue to have a lot of competition when it comes to getting chances on GKS Tychy’s defense. It may be a few years before we see Bizacki appear at a World Championship, but expect him to slowly earn a spot on team Poland. I imagine he will get some senior games this season.

 

#22 – Igor Smal (C), 19, MH Automatyka Gdansk. Smal turned pro full time this year at just 18-years-old and proved that he may be one of the top centers of the future for Poland. He had the 7th most points by a U20 player in the PHL. In the second league, he really showed off with nine goals and twelve assists in eight games. His 2.63 points per game were the second highest by any U20 player behind Kamil Walega. He played for team Poland at the U20 World Championships. His excellent offensive play continued there. Smal has performed well beyond his age and could begin to start getting senior international games as early as next year. The true question about Smal is what his ceiling is? It may not be as high as other forwards, and that is why he ends up outside the top 20.

 

 

 

#21 – Patryk Krezolek (F), 21, GKS Katowice. Krezolek recently earned a three year deal with GKS Katowice. Krezolek has been able to produce strong numbers in the PHL, despite his age. His 27 points were tied for the most by a U23 player in the PHL. He was able to recover strongly after not playing a lot during the 2017-18 season.  A player of outstanding offensive ability, Krezolek is extremely smart and always seems to be in the perfect position to make something happen. I would expect him to start consistently being a part of team Poland at international events. 

Players 20-17

Players 16-13

Players 12-10

Players 9-8

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