Changes have started to take place with the Polish national team. As Hokej.net reports, Łukasz Sokół is out as the head coach of the Men’s U18 team. The Men’s U18 squad took last place and won zero games at the 2022 Division 1 Group B U18 World Championships in Italy. Both sides seemed pretty displeased with each other before and after the tournament.
Sokół is a former national team defenseman and longtime GKS Tychy player. He retired from the PHL in 2016. He started with the national team in 2020, and served as the assistant coach for Poland U17, which competed in the Czechia junior system. 2022 was his first IIHF coaching job. Along with his U18 duties, he also worked with the Szkole Mistrzostwa Sportowego (Sports Championship School). His contact was mutually terminated with the PZHL.
The Polish U18 squad was only promoted back to Divion1 Group B at the 2019 U18s. They did not get a chance to defend their promotion due to the pandemic until this year. The 2022 team was sunk by poor defensive and goaltending play. They will still be in Division 1 Group B next year because Belarus and Russia are suspended from IIHF play. Reportedly the lead candidates for the job are former GKS Tychy head coach Krzysztof Majkowski and former U20 national team coach Piotr Sarnik. If Andrei Gusov does not return to Pohale, he would also be under strong consideration.
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With a new head coach installed for the Men’s senior team, it is not the biggest surprise that Poland has made some changes on the junior level as well. Jarosław Morawiecki (U16 head coach) and Piotr Sarnak (U20 head coach) are out. Artur Ślusarczyk, who was in charge of the U18 squad last season, will now take over as the head coach for the Polish U20 team. Łukasz Sokół is taking over as the U18 squad leader, while Tobiasz Bigos is now at the helm of the U16 staff. These coaches will all work closely with Robert Kalaber.
The 42-year-old Artur Ślusarczyk was a long time GKS Tychy and Zaglebie Sosnowiec forward, with over 600 PHL games to his resume, along with representing Poland at eight World Championships. From 2017 to 2019, he served as the assistant coach for the Polish U18 squad and was the head coach for the 2020 season. During this time, he was also a coach with SMS PZHL Katowice and the Polish U16 team that plays in the Czech Republic. The former national team forward was also an assistant coach on Zaglebie Sosnowiec in 2016 and 2019.
38-year-old Łukasz Sokół is now at the helm of the U18 squad after a long playing career. He played in over 600 PHL games, mostly with GKS Tychy. The former defenseman represented Poland at five World Championships. Since his retirement, he has worked as an assistant coach on both the U16 and U18 men’s national team squads.
The youngest new coach is 34-year-old Tobiasz Bigos. Bigos is a former long-time JKH GKS Jastrzebie defenseman. He was named an assistant captain under Robert Kalaber from 2017 to 2019 when he retired. With 400 plus PHL games under his belt, Bigos is a new coach. He assisted the Jastrzebie youth teams, along with as an assistant on the U16 squad.
In the PHL release of the news, PZHL president Miroslaw Minkina commented,
“We have made changes, but it is an evolution, because each of the three mentioned trainers recently worked with our youth, but in different positions. The training staff has been rejuvenated and the trainers will work closely with coach Robert Kalaber. All teams have to play by a single system and thus it will be easier for young players to go to the senior staff .”
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