Tag: Julia Zielinska

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_.

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_.

The Future Core of the Polish Women’s Team Continues to Thrive

Sports are an escape from reality at times, but things like the COVID-19 pandemic can be impossible to ignore. COVID-19 has caused a lot of leagues to be continually delayed or even outright canceled. For women’s hockey, that risk is even greater. Women’s clubs don’t receive the same funding as their male counterparts. Things were looking bleak with funding already being at risk as well as the increased cost of things like COVID testing. The IIHF was quick to cancel pretty much all women’s tournaments while still fighting to hold their select few high revenue events. If there was anything that was going to slow down the revolution of women’s hockey in Poland, it was going to be COVID. That has not happened at all.

The Polish women’s league retained all of their teams, with only PTH Kozice Poznań dropping down to PLHK B. Not only that, but Metropolis Katowice, formerly the Silesia Brackens, are still playing in the EWHL. The EWHL gives national team members chances to play against some top European clubs. The biggest thing is the young core of Poland continuing to play abroad in top leagues around Europe. Wiktoria Sikorska made the jump to the top women’s league in Europe in the Svenska damhockeyligan. While Julia Zielińska returned to Finland, Iga Schramm made her first attempt at a league outside Poland. Multiple young Polish players have also popped up in Slovakia, but the league has yet to play many games. 

Wiktoria Sikorska

Wiktoria Sikorska has long been the #1 prospect in Poland. She is easily the best young forward Poland has seen since Kamila Wieczorek. Even then, Sikorska reached a height that Wieczorek has yet to, as Sikorska is the first-ever Polish player to appear in Sweden’s Svenska damhockeyligan. The Svenska damhockeyligan is considered to be the top women’s league in Europe. 

Through 18 games this year, the 17-year-old forward has a goal and assist with Göteborg HC. While the numbers are not as eye-popping as we are used to with her, they are very impressive in context. Göteborg HC is the worst team in the SDHL. They are currently 0-18-2, with only 20 goals on the year. The team’s leading scorer has seven points, so not a lot of support for Sikorksa. Her two points also rank 9th among U18 skaters. Only 25 other U18 players have played five games in the SDHL this year, so getting there is not an easy accomplishment. She currently is tied for the lead in shots on goals for the team with 44. 

Julia Zielińska 

Julia Zielińska had already made a statement in Finland last year with an impressive season at just 15 years old. I usually have a rule of avoiding talking about players who are under 16, but Zielińska is one of the few exceptions to the rule, as she is impossible to ignore. The soon to be 16-years-old returned to Kiekko-Espoo for 2020-21. 

Since her return to Finland, she has been one of the best two-way defensemen in the country. This included a recent four-goal game! She has splint her season between Kiekko-Espoo’s team in the Naisten Liiga and Mestis. In the Metsis, she has 17 points (8G-9A-17PTS) in 12 games. Her point total ranks 28th in the league and sixth among all U18 players in the league. It is also sixth among all defensemen and second among all U18 defensemen. This is excellent production for her. In the Naisten Liiga, she has managed two games, her first two regular-season games with Kiekko-Espoo. While Sikorksa has a few other forwards, who rival her success, no other polish defensemen rivals the heights that Zielińska has reached. 

Iga Schramm

Iga Schramm is the last of the young polish core making a trip far from Poland this year. Schramm signed pretty close to the start of the season with Neuchâtel Hockey Academy Dames. The team plays in the top Swiss women’s league, the SWHL A. The 18-year-old forward has played 12 games so far with zero points yet. The team currently sits second-last in the league with 25 goals in 14 games, not the strongest team around her. Playing in a league of this caliber is extremely valuable for Schramm, though, who has shown extensive growth almost every year. 

The Future

These three players are not the only ones who are taking on the challenge outside of Poland. Martyna Sass and Zuzanna Baran are both in the top Slovak league. At the same time, I have also recently talked to a young player’s parent, whose child will be looking to make the jump. Players inside Poland are also both making huge strides, whether in the EWHL or PLHK. The pandemic might have slowed their ascent up the IIHF rankings, but it has not slowed down the progress of women’s hockey 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_.

2020 Top 30 Women’s U20 Players. #3

While this is not the time when I initially wanted to start this list, as I was hoping to have the Women’s World Championships to help distinguish some players at the top of the list. The coronavirus outbreak has effectively canceled or postponed all tournaments for the year.

This really is a bummer for Polish hockey with the amount of young talent they have at their disposal. It definitely seemed liked Poland had a chance to earn promotion at this year’s senior world championship. Women’s hockey in Poland is vastly on the rise with more players each year and a quick ability to develop players that are able to compete outside of Poland in stronger leagues. The talent pool has evolved so quickly that we have doubled our list size from last year. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, but the future is bright. Today we continue our 2020 ranking of the top 30 U20 Women’s players in Poland.

A player has to be 20 or younger on March 13th, 2020. There is no minimum age to make the list. Players are judged based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential.

Players #30-20     Players #6-4

Players #19-15

Players #14-10

Players #9-7

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2019, change in ranking)

3 – Julia Zielińska (D), 16,  Kiekko-Espoo, (3, 0)

It feels wrong to rank Zielińska at three. Her accomplishments deserve the top spot, but that is just how strong the top of the prospect pool is for Poland. Zielińska moved to Finland this season after spending the previous year in Slovakia. She joined Kiekko-Espoo and played across five teams in the top three women’s leagues in Finland and with their u16 squad.

Most of her time was spent with Kiekko-Espoo’ Metsis team, where the 15-year-old defensemen played ten games recording one assist. Her best production came in the third-tier league, where she posted six points (4-2-6) in six games. This was tied for sixth among U18 players in Suomi-sarja. The Sanok native would play six games in the Naisten Liiga, the top women’s league in Finland. In the Liiga, she played five games with RoKi, while on loan, and then returned to Kiekko-Espoo for one playoff game. On the junior side, she posted four points (1-3-4) in five games while captaining Kiekko-Espoo U16 in the Jr. C SM-turnaus. Her making it to these levels is impressive enough for any Polish player, but doing it at just 15-years-old is extremely impressive.

Zielińska also represented Poland this year at a senior non-IIHF event and the U18s. She held her own on the senior level, and was the defensive leader for Poland at the U18s. At the U18s, she recorded one goal on eleven shots. This was the lead among Polish defensemen. I was thrilled to see the former Janow player shoot more in this tournament. While her defensive side is the highlight of her game, she is a very capable two-way player. She hasn’t been able to show that much with a higher quality of competition she goes against.

Zielińska can already stake claim to being apart of Poland’s senior team defense and still has tremendous upside. The promise Poland has on this defense is a massive part of why I believe the women’s team and program have such a bright future, and Zielińska is the future face of that defense.

Player #2

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Previous Rankings

15-6

5 and 4