We have reached the most critical part of the rankings, the top ten. Every year it becomes harder and harder to pick who are the ten best young players in Poland. Today we start at those who just made the cut. This group includes three of the most critical members of the U18 national team that are also key members of Poland’s future.
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.
10 – Justyna Żyła (F), 17, Unia Oswiecim (16, +6)
Oh, captain, my captain, the Polish U18 captain, is up next on the list. Justyna Żyła had a solid year in the PLHK, where she posted 20 points in 17 games with Unia Oswiecim. This put her 11th among U18 skaters. A lot of feedback I received described them as one of the better all-around players in Poland. It was not surprising that she was able to attract interest from abroad and signed with Almtuna IS in Sweden’s division 1. Playing in a strong league at such a young age is a significant step for the young Pole and should be essential in her development into a star player for the country.
9 – Patrycja Wójcik (D), 16, Polonia Bytom (24, +15)
When making the rankings last year, someone told me that Wójcik would be on the senior national team within two years. Not seeing many of Janow’s games, I wondered how she would perform in the spotlight and if the national team was possibly in 2023. Instead, her 2022 season was sensational in how well she performed, rightfully making her debut for the Polish national team at just 16 years old in the Division 1 Group B World Championships. She also represented the Polish U18 squad picking up one assist in four games.
She entered Poland’s big club, Polonia Bytom, for her club season. She played in 12 regular season games going pointless but assisted on four goals in six games during the postseason. She also appeared in six games for Metropolis Katowice, her debut in the EWHL. For 2022-23, she will continue playing with Poland in the EWHL and spend some time in the Swiss second league with EHC Zunzgen-Sissach Damen.
8 – Matylda Stępień (F), 14, PTH Kozice Poznan (21, +15)
Stępień bursted on the scene last year with a big year and followed it up with a better sophomore season. This year with Poznan, she posted 41 points (17G-24A-41PTS) in 22 games. Her 41 points were thirteenth among all skaters and the third most by a U16 skater. Stępień appears to have the potential to be Poland’s next young star, and her path to the national team may also be accelerated. For 2023, she has signed with HC Falcons Sokol Karviná, who play in Czechia’s top women’s league. She is only the fourth Polish player to appear at the level.
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