Tag: Karolina Późniewska

The Silver Lining. 5 Thoughts 2022 Women’s World Championships Division 1 Group B

For the first time since 2019, the World Championships were back. After two years of COVID cancellation, we finally got to see the Women’s senior team play at the IIHF World Championships again. It has been a while since we have last seen the team, and a lot has changed. Poland got in a team in the European Women’s Hockey League, and numerous players went outside Poland to develop their craft. This team was coming off qualifying for the final round of Olympic Qualification for the first time in team history as they upset the Netherlands. Could the team continue to make history in 2022?

Poland got off to a hot start right away defeating the oldest team in the tournament, Kazakhstan, 3-1. In game two, it was a huge goaltending battle as Sass took on NCAA goalie Pia Dukaric, Sass would come out on top as Poland beat Slovenia 4-0. Next up was South Korea, which had been a thorn in Poland’s side during the 2019 Worlds. Korea remained a thorn, but not too much as Poland won 2-1. Game four saw Poland take on Italy, which had defeated Poland in 2014, 2017, and 2018. This time, for the first time, Poland took down Itlay after some overtime heroics from Wiktoria Gogoc. This win set up a winner take all game five between Poland and group favorites China. Unfortunately, China would win that game easily after a strong first period with a final score of 7-2.

The 100 Club

Both Karolina Pozniewska and Klaudia Chrapek hit the 100-game mark for the Polish national team. An amazing and rare achievement. Especially when you consider the women’s senior team has only been active in the IIHF since 2011, only 49 games at the World Championships. Their dedication to growing the game in Poland is inspiring, and both have already left an amazing legacy while continuing to help Poland reach new heights. When they played their first games for team Poland, the team started all the way down in Division Two group B. Now Poland is on the cusp of Division 1 Group A, in just a decade.

Wall of Sass

Sass continues to dominate the game. She went toe to toe with some great goalies in this tournament and came out on top all but once. If you take away the game versus China, Sass stopped 97 of the 103 shots she faced, a .942 save percentage. Sass was named the best goaltender of the tournament, and probably turned some heads in the scouting world with her performance at the Worlds and with her club teams. She had to make some really tough saves at the Worlds as well.

Defensive Struggles

Poland’s defense was completely overmatched at this tournament. It was not the entire lineup, but it was a major problem. It hurt the team massively and wasn’t just against China. It really stood out versus Italy and South Korea as well. All tournament teams would generate big chances off massive mistakes by the Polish defense. It wasn’t a matter of bad positioning, it was just bad awareness and decision-making. Something you would hope would improve as players gain more experience but this was a problem with quite a few veterans.

A Complete Offense

While defensively, there may have been some bad plays, Poland’s defense stepped up huge in the opposing zone for the most part. The whole offense seemed to play with a lot of confidence. Poland scored the second-most goals in the tournament with 16, five more than second-place Italy. The forward group was making plays, while the defense launched quite a few shots from the point, in fact, five of Poland’s eight defensemen scored a goal at the tournament.

The Silver Lining

Poland took home silver. They lost to a China team that is more North American than it is Chinese. The import rules need not apply in the circumstances China got and it sucks. The IIHF thought it was fine to let a team that posted two wins in the elite division just play back down in Group B. Poland and Itlay both played at the Olympic qualification tournament this past year, and were killed in the final round. The second the imports returned it was China’s tournament. Poland would have to play more than perfect to survive, but they had a rough first period and it quickly became 6-0. Poland would only allow one more goal the rest of the way. China was only held scoreless in a single period the whole tournament and that was the second period versus Poland. A 7-2 defeat against a team that can win at the elite level is a sign of progress.

A silver medal is the best Polish finish of all time. While you can be upset about the China game, what Poland did in this tournament still made history, as they have done all year. Last year it was a bronze medal, now it is the first silver medal in Division 1. They beat 16th ranked Italy, the highest-ranked opponent Poland has ever defeated. On top of all that, Poland was the second youngest team at the tournament. They’re going to be back next year for gold.

Quick Thoughts

– Olivia Tomczok only played in three games, her missing the final two hit the team’s forward depth hard. A great forward even scored in game 1 against Kazakhstan.

– In her first tournament for team Poland Ukrainian import Tatiana Onyshchenko looked great. She added one goal and two assists.

– Dominika Korkuz really made some great plays in this tournament and picked her corner perfectly on her first national team goal.

– Former national team forward Magdalena Czaplik served as the equipment manager for the team. This was her first senior team staff appointment, congrats to her! She has been working behind the scenes for the U18 squad since 2018 while her playing career was still active.

– Julia Zielinska’s offensive game is really getting to the next level. Really has a chance of being an elite two-way player.

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_.

Polonia Bytom Wins Seventh Straight PLHK Championship

Once again Polonia Bytom are the champions of Poland’s top women’s league. This marks the seventh straight championship season for Polonia. In the best of three series, they defeated repeat finalist Stoczniowca Gdańsk in just two games.

In the first game of the finals, Polonia Bytom showed why they’re the most dominant team in Polish hockey history with a 5-2 victory. In game two, Gdańsk left it all out on the ice. The first half of the game was filled with action both teams scoring twice. The final 30 minutes of the game would remain score-less though. With the title on the line the two teams went into overtime, where Ida Talanda scored the golden goal to give Polonia Bytom the win.

Full Final Game 2

Prior to knocking off Gdańsk, Polonia Bytom easily marched through the playoffs. In round one, they defeated UKH Biale Jastrzebie in two games, outscoring them 46-2. In the second round, they matched up with PTH Kozice Poznan. While Ponzan put up a better fight, they still were swept in two games, only managing one goal to Polonia’s 17.

The championship result was the expected outcome for the red and blue. Polonia Bytom went 16-0 in the regular season. Not only were they undefeated, but they scored 211 goals while only allowing 12. Their goal differential of +199, was 54 more than second-place Stoczniowca Gdańsk. Bytom was once again led by Polish legend Karolina Późniewska. Późniewska recorded a lead leaguing 116 points (58G-58A-116PTS) in just 16 games. Olivia Tomczok (62 points), Wiktoria Dziwok (44 points), Ida Talanda (41 points), and Klaudia Chrapek (40 points), also all cracked the PLHK’s regular-season top ten in scoring.

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_.