Tag: Krzysztof Macias

At Least It Had a Happy Ending? 2022 Men’s U20 Division 1 Group B World Championships 5 Thoughts

Poland lucked into being back in the Division 1 Group B U20 World Championships. By lucked in, I mean that Belarus and Russia invaded Ukraine and were thus suspended from IIHF competition. This meant instead of being relegated to Division 2, Poland was once again at the bottom of Division 1. So now, with a second chance at life, could Poland correct their mistakes and return to the top of the division for a chance at promotion?

Poland started off the tournament with Estonia. The same team that embarrassed Poland last year in overtime in a game they 100% should have won. Estonia came in with a better roster and once again took Poland to overtime. This time though, Poland would prevail victoriously and win 4-3. The next contest was against Ukraine, who Poland had just played in two pre-tournament exhibition games. While in the exhibition games, Poland appeared to be the better team, in IIHF action Ukraine dominated Poland and won 5-2. Poland’s third test with promotion on the line came against Japan. I hate to say it because this is a squad of teenagers, but this game was the worst performance I have ever seen from any Polish IIHF squad at any level, and the score would reflect that with a 7-3 loss. Poland would then lose a deflating game against Italy, taking them out of the race for third place. Italy allowed the most goals in the tournament going into the game, and Poland only found the back of the net once and lost 2-1. Poland needed a win on the tournament’s final day to avoid relegation for a second straight year. They would get more than just a win as they put their foot to the pedal and never took it off, beating South Korea 11-2. Compared to last year, Poland looked better against the teams below them but somehow worse against the teams considered better. It took two teams getting promoted for Poland to stay in Division 1, which is far from ideal.

No Structure + No Displcine = Awful Hockey

Last year I was shocked by the lack of discipline and structure in the U20 squad. I don’t know how it was even worse this year. Poland was doing things that would be not accepted at the U14 level, let alone the U20 level. There are serious issues when it comes to junior coaching in Poland. Polish defenders looked lost on the ice and had no idea how to recover when the slightest things would go wrong. Players would just collide with each other like little kids. It was so frustrating to watch. Let alone the lack of any defensive awareness was Poland just being stupid and letting their emotions get the best of them. Poland took 29 penalties in the tournament, tied for the second most. A lot of these came at crucial times as well. The worst part was with poor defensive play; Poland couldn’t recover from their mistakes and finished with the second worst penalty kill by penalty killing percentage and was tied for first in goals allowed shorthanded. Poland desperately needs to fix these issues. As if this continues, it is a bad sign for the future of the national team and PHL.

Who is Next in Net?

Given everything said in the last part, it should not be surprising that Polish goalies didn’t have the greatest tournament. Mikołaj Szczepkowski was the team’s primary starter, and I believe he had a better tournament than his stats say. He recorded a .883 save percentage in 3.66 games and faced the third most shots in the tournament. There were quite a few goals were there was nothing he could do, as the Polish defense left an opposing forward wide-open. Szymon Klimowski saw limited action in the tournament, starting one game and finishing the game against South Korea. He struggled at times when in, especially with a rough early start versus Ukraine. These were not performances that sparked much hope about the position’s future in Poland.

The Leader

It should be no surprise that Poland’s offensive leader in the tournament was Krzysztof Macias. The Nowy Targ native finished with seven goals and three assists for ten points. His ten points tied for first, with Japan’s Kotaro Murase, for the lead in the tournament. He led all players in goals by two with his seven. He also easily led Poland in the shot department with 25, eight more than the next Polish skater. All of this combined to earn him the best player of team Poland honors as selected by the coaches. While it was impressive, it also came in mainly two games. Against South Korea, Macias scored four goals and assisted on three; he also had a two-goal performance against Estonia. Macias only managed a lone goal against Italy and was held pointless versus Japan and Ukraine. The 18-year-old will still be eligible for Poland next season, and I hope to see his scoring against Estonia and Korea versus Poland’s top opponents.

Klutch Kusak

Patryk Kusak was a forward I did not expect much of in this tournament. He was penciled in on the third line coming in and had not been having the best club season in the top Czech junior level. Kusak blew past my expectations and was one of Poland’s most impactful and hardest-working forwards. He managed the third most points on the team with five (3G-2A-5PTS). This included two goals and one assist against Japan. That three-point performance earned him player of the game honors for Poland. He had a really solid showing for Poland at the tournament, no matter the opponent’s strength.

What is Next?

Poland was tied for the third oldest team at the tournament. 13 players will not be eligible for next year’s squad. They had one of the oldest squads and still came up short. Poland went from four straight silver medals and battling with the likes of France, Norway, and Slovenia for the promotion to fighting to stay in Division 1 against Estonia and South Korea. For Poland to stay in Division 1, they had to beat a team with only two regulation wins in the previous year’s Division 2 tournament. The last three team’s performances are more than concerning for Poland, which paints a grim future for the national team. While there have been some significant forward prospects, goaltending and defense have looked bare. Poland can either get a new coach to coach up the talent, or they need to revamp the junior system to bring up the talent level as a whole.

Quick Hits

  • Defensemen Kacper Macias served as captain and was Poland’s best defender in the tournament and second-leading scorer. He recorded an impressive seven assists at the tournament. Five of the assists came in the match against South Korea, where he earned player of the game honors.
  • The Super Macias Brothers, Kacper and Krzysztof Macias, were first and second on team Poland in scoring. The elder brother often assisting on his younger brother’s goals
  • Kurnicki would be my pick for Poland’s second-best defender. He stood out on quite a few penalty kill shifts, where he was not afraid to put his body on the line.
  • Adrian Gromadzki had a solid tournament and is another player that will be a key player next year.

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2022 Top 80 Men’s U23 Players. #7-6

Now to the final two that just missed out on the top five. These two players had insane breakout seasons and are two of the biggest risers in my rankings. One took a second giant jump after being the biggest riser in 2021. The top five players were all established before this season, and I didn’t expect anyone to disrupt the top five. These two forwards came very close to making the top five with historical seasons. 

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on June 1st, 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. 169 players were considered for the list and reviewed. Eighty players received a ranking.

Players 80-51Players 30-21Players 10-8
Players 50-41Players 20-16
Players 40-31Players 15-11

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2021, change in rankings) 

7 – Jakub Bukowski (F), 22, STS Sanok (25, +18)

The elder Bukowski brother had an excellent PHL rookie year in 2021. He had 11 points in 36 games, which was considered a pleasant surprise. Jakub Bukowski had a weird junior career and mostly played in the second level of the Czechia junior system, then spent a year in the third level of Switzerland. That background is not one that usually suggests a solid professional career. So the rookie year was a good surprise and suggested he may be able to play a middle-six role in the PHL. 

Instead, Bukowski proved he might be one of the best goal scorers in the PHL. In 45 games this season, he scored 29 goals and assisted on 15. He led the regular season in goals with 27. Even in overall totals, he still finished third despite Sanok being eliminated in round one of the playoffs. His 27 goals are the most in the regular season since Krystian Dziubinski scored 28 in 2020, and it is tied for the 27th most goals in the regular season since 2010. 

This was a fantastic year for a PHL player, regardless of age. But remember, Bukowski was only 21 this season. He led all U23 skaters in goals by five and all Polish U23 skaters in goals by 19. His 44 points also led all U23 skaters. His 29 total goals are the most by a U23 player since Damian Kapica scored 31 as a 22-year-old in 2015. His goal total is also tied for the second-most by a 21-year-old, and his 44 points make it the sixth-best season ever in the PHL by a 21-year-old. 

Alright, that is enough posting numbers on how historical his season was. Bukowski was just unstoppable this year. I have no idea if it is sustainable, but he battled hard and earned every goal. Bukowski was rewarded with his first senior team appearances, representing Poland at the Baltic Challenge Cup, recording one goal and three assists in four games. He also made his IIHF debut playing for Poland at the Division 1 Group B World Championships. The dominant season resulted in him making the jump to GKS Tychy this offseason. He will have to reprove himself in a very loaded offense. 

6 – Krzysztof Macias (F), 18, HC Vitkovice U20, (39, +33

When Alan Lyszczarczyk finished atop the Cezch U18 league and became an NHL draft prospect after a strong rookie year in the OHL, it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Polish hockey. Then only a few years later, Jakub Lewandowski dominated in Czechia, moved over to the USHL, and was ranked in the pre-season as a draft prospect. Again it felt like such a rare moment for Polish hockey. This year, Krzysztof Maciaś posted a strong year in the top Czech U20 league, and I believe he just missed out on that NHL draft prospect status. 

So why did Macias miss out? The 17-year-old forward had a great year at Czechia’s top level of junior hockey. He finished with 14 goals and 22 assists in 48 games. Among players in their draft-eligible season, his 36 points were tied for 17th in the league. His season was not always consistent though. 

Graph showing Macias points per date.

After a strong start, he had an awful December and January and a nine-game pointless streak during the months. If you take his poor stretch out from December 3rd to January 25th, he instead finishes with a .94 point per game average instead of a .75. That inconsistency at times and final number cost him. 

Macias also represented Poland at both the IIHF U18 and U20 World Championships. At the U20 World Championships, he was one of Poland’s best forwards at only 17. In five games, the left winger assisted on two goals. At the U18s, he was a different animal and put in what has to be one of Poland’s best performances in U18 history. He put the team on his back, forming an electric line with Kolat and Kusak. He scored two goals and assisted on five. The U18 captained was involved in seven goals on a team that scored only 11 the entire tournament. He was among the best forwards at the event regardless of country. 

Macias Goal vs. Italy IIHF D1B U18s
Macias Goal vs. Italy IIHF D1B U18s

That idea of Macias being an NHL prospect is a dream he is chasing and will sacrifice for. In an interview with hokej.cz, he talked about his idol Alan Lyszczarzyk. “He’s from my town. I followed him even when I was still in Poland. I went to his matches. He has an interesting career path and I think he will go far.” When asked about other professionals like Aron Chmiewlewski, he replied, “respect to him and others, because they are really excellent hockey players. But as I said, the greatest inspiration for me is Alan’s journey.” Łyszczarczyk went from Czechia to Canada’s top junior league and then a professional in the ECHL and Czechia.

I feel Macias has a solid chance to duplicate that journey and become a strong professional in leagues better than Poland. It feels almost wrong having Macias this low on the rankings, as he was easily the Polish junior player of the year, in my opinion. He is returning to the Czechia U20 league next year, but I hope to see him earn some chances at the pro level. If he improves on his Czechia U20 season and gets those small professional chances, I could see that NHL prospect door opening up. 

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Krzysztof Maciaś and Jakub Slusarczyk Both to Return to HC Vitkovice U20

Two of Poland’s top junior players will be staying with their 2022 junior club. HC Vitkovice U20 announced their roster for the 2022-23 season, and both Krzysztof Maciaś and Jakub Ślusarczyk are staying on the squad. They will be the only two non-Czech players on the team.

Krzysztof Maciaś will be spending his third season in the HC Vitkovice junior system. The 18-year-old posted 36 points (12G-24A-36PTS) in 48 Czechia U20 games. It was the fourth most points on the team, and tied for the 11th most by a U18 player. The left-wing also represeneted Poland at the IIHF U18 and U20 World Championships.

Jakub Ślusarczyk will be returning for his second season with HC Vikovice U20. He had previously played in the Sosnowiec and HC Poruba junior systems. Last year the 19-year-old center appeared in 48 games , scoring 11 goals and assisting on 10. He played for Poland at U20 World Championships.

Last year HC Vitkovice U20 failed to make the playoffs, and should be excited to return two of their top ten forwards in scoring. Espicially with how hot Macias ended the second half of his season. The team will still be coached by former NHL player Pavel Trnka. It will be his fifth year managing HC Vitkovice’s U20 squad. He also is an assistant coach on Czechia’s U20 for the World Juniors.

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The One-Line Team. 2022 Division 1 Group B U18 World Championships 5 Thoughts.

We can all wait for some moments. After two years of covid cancellations, the Men’s Senior team finally returned to the Worlds and won gold. Part of me really does believe that the three years it technically took to get back in Group A makes it all the sweeter. Unfortunately for other age levels, two canceled years means players aged out of eligibility and didn’t have a chance to finish what they started. Poland had no returners from their 2019 squad that earned a promotion to Division 1, it was now up to an entirely new roster to try and stay in the division, but could they do it?

Poland quickly saw the reality they faced in game one when offensive powerhouse Ukraine beat them 6-1. Ukraine would score 5 or more goals, including 12 against Austria, against every opponent besides one. Next up was Poland’s eternal hockey rival Hungary, who saw off Poland pretty quickly, 5-2. Hopefully, it would have been more smooth sailing for Poland with the top two teams in the tournament out of the way. In a back and forth contest against Itlay, Poland would fall 8-5 in the best chance to grab points. Poland would close the tournament with a 5-2 loss to Austria and then a 6-1 defeat against Slovenia.

A Rough Week in Net

You saw the scores, so let us address it right away. It was a very rough tournament for Poland’s goaltending, particularly for starting goalie Jakub Ciucka. While there were a couple own goals and some significant defensive lapses at times. This was a rough tournament, and there were some plays where all you can say is “oof’. Ciucka finished with a .820 save percentage, while his backup Maksymilian Kura finished with a .762. sv%. Especially in the game against Italy, Poland could have won. They scored five goals and still lost by three.

Keeping Pace

While Poland was the inferior team in each game. They were not actually as bad as the scores portray. Usually, when you see blowout scores, you also expect a similar disadvantage in the shots. Only in one game was Poland killed in the shot department as they were outshot 45-15 against Austria. Poland outshot Italy 28-27 while losing the shot battle by less than five against Ukraine. They also were tied with Austria in goals for at the tournaments. Poland did their best. It wasn’t enough. As the team improves, I see them staying in Division 1 as a very likely outcome. They mostly looked like they belonged. Not saying I’m expecting them to win a medal yet, but fourth and fifth place finishes should be on the table.

Czech Stars

In 2022, Poland only had 10 players in Czech junior leagues at the U17 level and above. That is down from the 16 that Poland had during the 2021 season. Five of the 2022 players made Poland U18. Of Poland’s top five skaters in points, four of them played in the Czechia junior system. Krzysztof Macias finished first with 7 points (2G-5A-7PTS), Dominik Kolat second with 6 points (4G-2A-6PTS), Michal Kusak was third with 3 points (2G-1A-3PTS), and then tied for fifth was Adrian Gromadzki with 2 points (0G-2A-2PTS). The top line of Kolat, Kusak, and Macias was one of the best lines in the tournament. Even when Kusak was moved down for Gromadzki to join the top line, Kolat and Macias didn’t miss a beat with their Czech junior league counterpart.

Master Macias

I usually don’t want to use two thoughts on one player in an article, but Krzysztof Macias deserves his own closer look. Macias was involved in seven goals on a team that scored 11 total goals. His 7 points were also tied for fifth in the tournament. Given that Hungary and Ukraine scored a combined 49 goals him cracking the top five is significant, in my opinion. The Polish captain also fired off 19 shots, about 20% of Poland’s total shots on goal, and tied for the fourth-most in the tournament. Given he only scored twice on those 19 shots, I believe he got a bit unlucky on his goal amount. Macias proved that he is Poland’s best U18 prospect and maybe even the best U20 prospect. A reminder, his two assists on Poland U20 put him second in scoring and tied for the lead in assists.

The Expected Result. Now What?

I saw some people a bit stunned about the results of the Polish team. Particularly about the result versus Ukraine. Poland’s junior system is inferior and years behind almost all top European countries. Poland is one of only a few countries in Division 1 to not have a fully dedicated U20 league. Ukraine especially has been impressive in its youth development. They even defeated Austria with a score of 12-4. Poland being relegated was the expected result, even if Poland’s performance in their own end didn’t help.

Poland will be relegated to Division 2 Group A next year. Their opponents will be Estonia, Great Britain, Lithuania, Romania, and Croatia. Poland often faces a familiar list of teams in Division 1 at the Senior World Championships. It will not be a cakewalk for the U18 squad, especially as they will be returning only 4 skaters. The good news is two of them are their top defenders in, Blazej Chodor and Karol Sobecki, while Finnish junior league forward Krystian Lisowski will also return. The most significant addition the team will have is goaltender Igor Tyczynski. Tyczynski was very impressive in nine MHL games and had an outstanding performance at recent U16 events.

Quick Thoughts

– Karol Sobecki showed off really well at this tournament. The 16-year-old was easily Poland’s best defender in the five-game showing.

– Another defender I liked was Blazej Chodor. He has ideal size and wasn’t afraid to get physical. But it did put his team in some rough places at times. As he gains more experience, his awareness will improve and he’ll pick better times to step up for the big hit.

– While the team was led mainly by the Czech stars on the offensive end, Paweł Pisula put in a great tournament on the forward side. His two-assist placed him tied for fifth in points.

– In his IIHF coaching debut, I thought Łukasz Sokół put in a good performance. The team stayed competitive, maybe a bit too hesitant to switch goalies at times. Based on how Kura did play in his limited minutes, I can’t blame him for that.

– This tournament will make a significant impact on my rankings for the year, while only five games. These are the five best opponents I will see most players play against all year.

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5 Players to Watch on Poland’s U18 Team

In 2019, the Polish U18 pulled off a perfect performance at the 2019 Division 2 Group A U18 World Championships. The team scored 36 goals while only allowing four in route to an excellent 5-0 record. Unfortunately, after two years in a row of the lower division U18 World Championships being canceled, we never got to see some of the team defend their gold and promotion to Division 1 Group B. It will be an all-new roster for Poland at the U18s, with zero of the squad having any previous U18 IIHF experience.

Poland will face some prominent opponents, as they will match up with the under 18 squads from Austria, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, and Ukraine. It will be an interesting test to see how the Polish U18 program has grown since 2019. Poland did make it back to Division 1 in 2017 but was promptly relegated back to the second division. Now the goal for this team will be to stay in Division 1. This team will be led by former national team member and long-time GKS Tychy forward Łukasz Sokół, making his IIHF head coaching debut. His assistants will be Adam Bagiński, Tomasz Kowalczyk, and Sebastian Owczarek. Bagiński is a current GKS Tychy assistant coach, and long-time player, while Kowalczyk is the former women’s U18 head coach. The well-experienced staff should help these young players compete and potentially catch the eyes of scouts. With that in mind, here are five players to watch at the U18s for Poland.

Adrian Gromadzki

A big scoring winger performing well in the Czech junior system is pretty uncommon for Poland. Gromadzki produced strongly in Poland, so he moved to Germany. He played great in Germany, so he moved to Czechia. He is a player whose stock continues to rise, as he just scores no matter where he goes. His ten points in 29 Czech U20 games is the first time he is not a point per game player in his career. Though he did post 26 points in 20 Czech U20 2 games. I have no doubt Gromadzki should be able to post some big numbers at the IIHF U18s.

Aleks Menc

Menc long looked like Poland’s next top hockey prospect after some ridiculous numbers at the young levels of Polish hockey and representing Poland at the youth Olympics. After some impressive years for his age at the top junior levels of hockey in Poland, Menc moved over to Sweden. Playing in the second level of Swedish U18 hockey, Menc has posted 18 points (12G-6A-18PTS) in 34 games. While not eye-popping numbers, they rank third on his squad. This will be our first chance to see the talented center on the IIHF level.

Blazej Chodor

Chodor has been tearing it up in Poland for a while now, and he does it as a 16-year-old defenseman. He posted the second-most points of all 16-aged players in the MHL while adding eight more points in just 17 games with Poland U16 in the Czechia junior system. It will be great to see the talented offensive defenseman at the U18s and against tough competition. He possesses the size scouts love already at 6’2, and would be my pick for the player to most interest scouts around Europe.

Krystian Lisowski

We don’t see many Polish prospects play in Finland, which is no surprise given how high the level of hockey is in the country. Lisowski has made himself at home in the Finnish junior ranks, scoring 38 points (26G-12A-36PTS) in 44 games with Kiekko-Espoo U18 Ch. Kiekko-Espoo plays in the top level of the Finnish junior ranks, where Lisowski’s point total ranks seventh among 16-year-old skaters. The Sanok native also played one game in the top U20 league, where he scored a goal.

Krzysztof Macias

It is not very often that Poland has two studs in one junior league outside of Poland. Macias has been a force in Czechia while playing most of his junior career there. At only 17-years-old, the Polish winger posted 36 points (14G-22A-36PTS) in 48 games with HC Vitkovice U20. This was tied for 65th among all skaters in the league while being tied for 11th among U18 skaters. It is a similar production range to some members of Czechia U18, who play in the IIHF’s elite division. Macias also has IIHF experience, as he represented Poland at the 2021 U20 World Championships, recording two assists.

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2021 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #40-31

The top 50 is underway and we’re now on to the players ranked 40-31. The last group is hard to make. As you have to cut a few players from getting a report. Until you get to your 20s, in my opinion, the difference between most players is not that major. A lot of them are very minor and could realistically flip with another month of play, or even a few more games.  

This next batch of players is an interesting group. It’s a mixture of some newcomers tearing it up around Europe and a few players that improved their stock in the PHL. It was definitely a trend this year in the PHL, due to covid, that some teams relied on younger players more. In some cases that worked great and players took a huge jump. In other cases the larger role with a poor supporting cast hurt young players and their numbers fell. 

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on June 30th, 2021. Players are judged based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. Players must have played at least five hockey games to be considered. While most of the ranking is my own opinion, numerous people in the Polish hockey world contributed their thoughts on players. One hundred forty-five players were considered for the list and reviewed. Eighty players received a ranking. Players 80-51 will be revealed at the end of the series in the breakdown article. Only the top 50 players receive a report.

Players 50-41

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2020, change in rankings

40. Bartosz Florczak (D), 19, STS Sanok, (38, -2)

Florczak’s quick climb in the rankings came to an end, as he slides a minor two down the rankings. This fall more comes down to quite a few newcomers and other players taking a larger jump. He is also definitely a player that would have benefited from a few international tournaments. A strong two-way defender definitely had run into problems of low ice time, and poor supporting cast. Still the 18-year-old was able to post 2 assists in 30 PHL games. The third most points by any skater in their draft-eligible season. While a sample size of six games, his 1.67 points per game average was the best among U20 defensemen in the MHL. 

39. Krzyzstof Macias (F), 17, HC Vitkovice U17, (Not Ranked)

Macias had a really great season for HC Poruba in 2020. His 21 goals were the 13th most among U16 players in the Czech U16 league. The Podhale native had played for HC Poruba most of his junior career, but after the breakout year, HC Vitkovice picked up the talented Polish forward. It appeared he was going to be a great pick-up as well with 6 goals and 5 assists in just 7 games. This had him tied for 17th among all skaters in terms of points. Its going to be exciting to see what he does at the U20 level, and should shoot him up the rankings. 

38. Armen Khoperia (D), 21, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (41, +3)

Khoperia’s ranking has kinda stayed the same over the years. That is not to say he is not making progress and developing as a player. He is best in his own zone and continuing to develop into a great defenseman. He went up and down the Sosnowiec lineup as they struggled with a rough year. He started playing top-line minutes to begin the year but went down in the lineup as the season went on. He would rebound though as he and Eduard Kaščák formed Sosnowiec’s top paring for the home stretch of the season. In total, he posted four assists in 36 games.

37. Aleks Menc (F), 17, KS Naprzod Janow, (Not ranked)

Menc has long been considered a top Polish prospect. If you have been following my account for long enough you have probably seen some of the ridiculous point totals he has posted in Polish hockey’s junior divisions.

Menc really has the potential to be a special player. This year, he was finally getting out of Poland and headed over to Sweden. The 16-year-old suited up Kiruna AIF J20 in the second level of U20 hockey in Sweden. He only got in a total of two games before the season was canceled, recording both a goal and an assist. This made him one of only five U17 players to post more than one point. He then suited up for Janow in Poland recording 3 points (1-2-3pts) in 6 MHL games. Along with 35 points in 17 lower junior games, but only a goal and assist in 8 CLJ games. Next year he will be representing Strömsbro IF J18 in the second level of Swedish U18 hockey. The team has a close relationship with the top Swedish club Brynas IF. 

36. Marcel Kotula (G), 20, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (44. +8)

Kotula was one of two young goalies in a rough Sosnowiec situation. There was no way any goalie was going to thrive there. It was also a familiar place for Kotula, who saw similar action with PZHL U23. Sosnowiec would later add another goalie as well, at the PHL level, and had talented Lithuania Tadas Ramanauskas at the MHL level. This made playing time a bit hard to come by, but Kotula fought for his minutes. In five PHL games, he recorded a .871 save percentage up from his .829 mark the previous year with PZHL U23. While at the MHL level, he posted a .909 SV% the fifth-best among all MHL goalies. Definitely lost a few big international starting spots due to COVID-19, and I hope to see him with a few more PHL games next year. 

35. Mateusz Ubowski (F), 21, GKS Tychy, (28, -7

Ubowski had a really strong year in 2020 making his debut for GKS Tychy along with being a key member of PZHL U23 recording 5 points in 23 games. This year, he only managed one assist in 6 games. Along with seeing his MHL point total drop from 48 points in 24 games to 28 points in 20 games. The MHL was a lot better league this year and points was not easy to come by.. His 28 points still were the tenth most in the MHL for 2021, when they would have been tied for 19th in 2020. Still, this was his final U20 season, the talented forward will need to start translating his skills over at the senior level in a hard Tychy lineup to crack. 

34. Maciej Miarka (G), 21, GKS Katowice, (42, +8

Goalies were given more slack in the rankings this year, as I think in past years I jugded them too hard. That said Miarka did earn his ranking improvement. The Lodz native moved from Jastrezbie to Katowice this year to serve as the team’s primary backup. While he didn’t get too much action in the green and black, his .891 save percentage was the best among U20 goalies, and fifth among U23 goalies. It is also a nice bump up from the .847 he recorded with PZHL U23 the previous year. John Murray will be the starting goalie next year in Katowice, which will be a great veteran for Miarka to learn and grow behind. 

33. Michał Cychowski (F), 19, Krefelder EV 1981 U20, (30, -3)

It was a unfortunate year for Cychowski. He was set to be a key player for Poland at junior international events along with his first full season in the DNLU20, the top junior league in Germany. Instead, he played a whole five games for Krefelder EV 1981 U20. Not really much else to say about his year. He was recently named to the U20 team for training camp and a tournament in August 

32. Michał Zając (F), 20, Stoczniowiec Gdansk, (43, +11)

Zając flashed some skills in 2020 in short runs with PZHL U23 and Polonia Bytom. With Stoczniowiec Gdansk this year, he was able to get a lot of playing time due to the lack of veteran talent on Gdansk. A common thing in the PHL this year, but Zajac excelled in the situation. He posted 11 points (4G-7A-11) in 36 games. This was the most points by a U20 player in the PHL this year. Since 2000, it is the 21st best season for a player in their draft-eligible plus 1 season in the PHL. It also sets him up with some nice production comparables like Pawel Zygmunt, Mateusz Michalski, and  Patryk Krezolek. Though the average for most of the comparables is a .31 PHL point per game average career. 

31. Michał Bernacki (F), 23, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (22. -9)

From one player who really flourished in a larger role with a talent-strapped team to one who saw their production drop. In 2020, Bernacki posted a 20 point season, but in 2021 his point total dropped 5 (2G-3A-5PTS) points in 28 games. A rough season after he looked good in some pre-season matches including a double goal game against Podhale, which matches his total for the season. He started the year as well mostly on the second line, eventually missing most of January and falling to the bottom 6. Bernacki is a solid forward with good size, and I have confidence that his production will bounce back. Especially as the talent around him in Sosnowiec improves. 

Players 30-21

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