Tag: Men’s U20

5 Pitches for Polish Hockey In 2022

New year, new me, and new Polish hockey. I am in year eight of covering Polish hockey, which is a wild timeline. Polish Puck is a project that started in high school for me, and with each passing year, something in Polish hockey never ceases to amaze me. We are entering a new year with 2020 long in the review mirror. We had a somewhat return to normal at some points in 2021. 2022 unfortunately, started with the cancellation of the IIHF January events, which included the women’s U18 squad playing their first IIHF games in two years. So not the most fabulous start to 2022. 

Polish hockey will always have its up and down, but here are my ideas to add a few more ups. These pitches are not what I think will happen, are 100% possible, or even want to some degree. They are what I believe is in the best interest of Polish hockey. One of my pitches from back in 2020 was for the PHL to have one game a week broadcasted on Twitch for free. We now have hockey Thursday streamed on Youtube for free. So why not try to pitch more into existence. 

  1. Bring in an Import U20 Coach 

I always feel bad calling for import coaches. All the Polish coaches I have talked to, have always been extremely fair to me in interviews and answering questions. But we have to face facts. The junior system has looked extremely poor under the last two Polish coaches. From 2013 to 2018, Russian Andrei Parfenov, Swedish Torbjörn Johansson, and Canadian David Leger all had stints running the U20 national team. The worst finish during that time was a bronze. Otherwise, Poland took 4 silvers, with one gold, and another sixth-place finish in the next division up. Poland’s junior coaching situation is poor, and the best U20 players need a coach that can help them get to the next level not maintain the status quo.

  1. Make the MHL U20 Only 

The following two pitches are kind of going to go together. The goal will be to make the MHL a more strict U20 league. Of course, that will cause some problems for teams at the lower end like Łódź, who don’t have a strong enough U20 program. So we put in one specific rule to help teams like that. Organizations that do not have a PHL club can play up to five players over 20-years-old in a game. U20 teams that are part of an organization with a PHL club will be restricted to three skaters and ZERO goalies aged 20 to 25.  It is not perfect, but I don’t want to kill off any small clubs. Our U20 league will consist of two divisions.

Gdańsk U20Cracovia Krakow U20
Janow U20Jastrzebie U20
Łódź U20Oswiecim U20
Opole U20Podhale U20
Polonia Bytom U20PZHL Katowice U18
Ponzan U20Sanok U20
SMS Torun U20Sosnowiec U20
Sokoly Torun U20Tychy U20

The goal for groups was to try and get the PHL affiliated U20 teams to stick together, as the teams that may be dipping into older players to stay competitive will now be more often facing each other. This will also help with scheduling for the second part of the pitch. 

  1. Create a Hybrid second league 

Now with the MHL becoming more of a U20 league. We will have a second senior league that will play their games on the same day as the U20 or PHL clubs. So before or after the U20 or PHL club plays, there will be a second league game at the same arena. This parallel schedule will hopefully cut down on the cost of the second league, along with making it easier to fill rosters for the games.  The league will also only be playing 16 to 20 games, so for 8-10 select U20 and PHL games, just a handful of extra players will need to travel with the away team. 

These games will be filled with any player of any age. There is no promotion to the PHL, and this league is fully here for players over 20 to continue playing hockey at a competitive level. Polish goalies, PHL healthy scratches, and players needing a tune-up before returning from injury will be the players that get the most time in this league. Teams will be those not currently in the PHL or PHL clubs with enough players for a second squad. PHL clubs that won’t have a second league team can loan players, i.e., the current relationship between Katowice and Janow. My goal would be to have at least six teams, but I want eight. 

IndependentSecond Team for PHL squads
LKH ŁódźUKS Zaglebie Sosnowiec II
KS Naprzod JanowTorun II
Polonia BytomJKH GKS Jastrzebie II
GdańskUnia Oswiecim II

Sosnowiec, Oswiecim, and Jastzrebie have enough talent or have faired well enough in the MHL this year, and in my opinion, could support a second-team player-wise. While between KH Torun, SMS Torun, and Sokoly Torun, there should be enough players for this experiment. Bytom, Janow, and Łódź all have rosters built for this league and can grab loans from PHL clubs that will not play in the second league. Gdańsk will be the dream in this one and part of the next pitch. On a side note, I would also take a returning KTH Krynica. 

  1. Find a way to get back into Gdańsk

Hockey fans from Gdańsk deserve so much better than how they have been treated. Gdańsk has shown to be a great hockey market, and losing it is devastating for hockey in the country for a few reasons. First, it is a great hockey market. Second, it helps build the sport in the Northern part of Poland, where Torun is currently alone. The third is it was the second-largest market in the PHL in terms of population. The current number two in the PHL, Katowice, has 190,000 fewer inhabitants than Gdańsk. Given the PHL’s need to grow their tv numbers, losing a team in Poland’s sixth-largest city is not great. I don’t know what needs to be done to return PKH Gdańsk to the hockey map. I will say the PZHL needs to put its foot down on Marek Kostecki’s involvement with hockey in the country and reject any team submitted by him or his ownership. 

  1. Try to bring back players 

This last one will need to be coordinated by the PZHL and PHL. The goal will be to help the national team get a quick boost in talent and depth by bringing back Polish players who chose a different country. Adam Kiedewicz, Kamil Sadlocha, and Wojtek Stachowiak all had chances to make a higher-ranked national team but came up short. Could the PHL possibly bring them back? I’m not sure of the exact eligibility, but imagine it would take two years in the PHL at most. For Sadlocha, his NCAA stats are not that far off from what other NCAA imports had come into the PHL with. Kiedewicz has not found his footing at the DEL2 yet and was loaned to the Oberliga. While Stachowiak has yet to find his scoring touch in the DEL, he has a point per game average in the DEL2. Would it be impossible to add them? Probably not, but it would mostly take a good offer from a PHL club.

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_.

December National Team Wrap Up

The Polish national teams all played in their final tournaments of 2021. It was a crazy year for the national team, with both men and women’s senior teams creating unforgettable moments during the Olympic qualifiers. After a couple of years, we finally get to see all levels of the national team competing in the IIHF again. It will be interesting to see how teams have changed over the past few years. Especially at the junior levels, we know full rosters will have changed since we last saw a few groups and most of the national team coaching staffs have also entirely been revamped. 

Along with the return to our first regular IIHF tournament, plenty of teams continued to prepare for their years. In total five national teams were in action. The Men’s U20 team played in the first IIHF tournament of the year in the U20 Division 1 Group B World Championships. The Men’s senior team was hosting the Christmas Cup in Polonia. The Men’s U18 squad played an exhibition series in Hungary. The lone women’s team to suit up was the Women’s u18 teams. This was their final tournament before the U18 world championship in January. The Men’s U16 team was in action with exhibition games against HK Propad U16. 

Men’s U20. IIHF U20 World Championships Division 1 Group B 

Game 1: France defeats Poland 6-2 (Goals: Fabian Kapica, Szymon Mackowski) 

Game 2: Slovenia defeats Poland 3-1 (Goals: Krzysztof Bukowski)

Game 3: Japan defeats Poland 7-2 (Goals: Oliwier Kasperek 2x) 

Game 4: Estonia defeats Poland 4-3 in overtime (Goals: Wiktor Bochnak, Pawel Wybiral, Karol Sterbenz)

Game 5: Ukraine beats Poland 4-1 (Goals: Jakub Slusarczyk) 

This was a bad tournament for Poland. The team lost all five games and found themselves relegated to division two group A. This will be the lowest division group Poland U20 has played in since the IIHF established the group system. Poland U20 once found themselves on the doorstep of being promoted to division one group A with four straight silver medals. Now the team will have to fight for promotion back to division one. There will be nine returning forwards from the current squad. To read more about the tournament, check out our 5 Thoughts piece. It May Be Time To Sound The Alarms. 5 Thoughts 2021 U20 World Championships

Senior Men’s Team. Christmas Cup. 

Game 1: France defeats Poland 3-2 (Goals: Radosław Sawicki, Jakub Bukowski) 

Game 2: Poland defeats Hungary 3-2 (Goals: Łukasz Nalewajka, Radosław Sawicki, Radosław Nalewajka) 

Game 3: Poland defeats Ukraine 4-1 (Goals: Radosław Nalewajka, Alan Łyszczarczyk, Dominik Paś, Sebastian Brynkus) 

Always take these tournaments with a grain of salt, as no one comes to the tournament with their entire roster. Poland had a bumpy first two periods against France. The red and white would come alive late in the third. Poland would score two late goals before France killed off a late penalty ending the game. Poland faired much better against Hungary and Ukraine. Poland grabbed a 3-0 lead against Hungary before the halfway point. Which Hungary never was able to overcome despite two late goals. Poland scored two goals in the first 10 mins against Ukraine, and that was pretty much all that was needed.

Again while no one had their top rosters, these games do feature competition that is a step above the PHL and usually on par with Poland’s national team. So it is nice to see Poland do well. I was very happy to see Kamil Lewartowski post solid games against Hungary and Ukraine, and he finished with a .933 save percentage for the weekend. It is very cool to see both Nalewajka brothers score in a game.

Women’s U18. Olympic Hopes Tournament

Game 1: Czechia U16 defeats Poland U18 6-0

Game 2: Slovakia U18 defeats Poland U18 3-1 (Goals: Magdalena Łąpieś) 

Game 3: Poland U18 vs. Hungary U18 canceled. 

We have yet to find a rostered number for Poland in this tournament, so sorry for any missing information. Unfortunately, there was a covid outbreak during this tournament. Which saw games against Hungary canceled. This was Poland’s final test before the U18 World Champion Division Division 1 Group B begins on January 10th. Both Hungary and Slovakia play in the next group up. Staying competitive against Slovakia is an excellent sign for Poland. Especially props to Poland’s starting goalie in the game, whom I believe to be Julia Bujak. The women’s youth program continues to get more and more competitive in these matches. When this tournament occurred in 2019. Poland lost 15-1 to Czechia but did upset Slovakia 3-2. 

Men’s U18 Exhibition Matches in Hungary

Game 1: Poland U18 defeats France U18 3-2 in a shootout (Goals: Michał Kusak, Piotr Ciepielewski) 

Game 2: Poland defeats Hungary U16 6-2 (Goals: Missing. No no. roster) 

Game 3: Poland defeats Hungary U17 2-1 (Goals: Aleks Menc, Other goal missing)

Game 4: Poland defeats France U18 2-1 in a shootout. (Goals: Damian Kapa) 

Another tournament without a numbered roster, but we were able to get some goal scorers, and match them. Well not France’s and Hungary’s best rosters, it was great to see Poland pull off a clean sweep of the tournament. Both France and Hungary play in divisions higher than Poland. This wasn’t even a complete roster for Poland as well. This U18s squad should have some high hopes. Kusak and Ciepiewlewski both looked good, and were players we mentioned that the U20 team should have maybe considered. The U18 squad will finally get their next chance to play in Division 1 Group B, after earning promotion all the way back in 2019. Staying in the division would be a big deal for Poland. 

Men’s U16. Exhibitions versus HK Poprad U16

Game 1: HK Poprad U16 defeats Poland 4-2 (Goals: Karol Tymcio, Kacper Prokopiak)

Game 2: Poland defeats HK Poprad U16 4-3 (Goals: Olaf Zachariasz 2x , Kacper Prokopiak, Patryk Hanzel) 

It is always hard to judge how a team progresses when they play a junior club from another country. In the end, the main takeaway has Poland pulled off a win, along with staying competitive in the initial game. Poland did blow a lead in the first game but made a comeback in the second game. 14-year-old Zachariasz was able to put home two, while Kacper Prokopiak impacted each matchup.

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_.

How To Watch All the Polish National Team Action This Week

Almost all levels of Poland’s national team will be in action this weekend! It is so fun to be back in a place where tournaments are being played that has a lot of meaning to them. Right now there is a lot at stake. Olympic hopes are on the line. Along with spots on future national teams that will be representing Poland at IIHF events. It is good to be back everyone!

The highest stake matchups of this week will see the Women’s Senior team head over to Czechia to participate in the final round of Olympic Qualification. Win this tournament and a ticket is booked to the Winter Olympics. These are without a doubt the biggest games in the history of the women’s team. The Men’s senior team will also be in action playing in the Baltic Challenge Cup. An exhibition tournament that will see Poland bring an extremely young roster as Robert Kalaber aims to test some new blood for the national team. Ahead of their first IIHF tournaments in almost 2 years, the Men’s U20 will be active as well with one of the final tune-ups before the U20 World Championships start in December. Both the Men’s and Women’s U18 squads will also be in action as they prepare for tournaments at the end of the year. Along with last but not least the Men’s U16 team will also be playing some exhibition games.

When is the action happening? Where will you be able to watch all the matchups? We got those answers here!

Women’s Senior Team. Final Round of Olympic Qualification

Nov. 11th – Poland vs Hungary. 12:00 PM (CET/POL) 6:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Poland – TVP SPORTS (TV) North America – Olympics Channel (Stream)

Nov 13th – Poland vs Czechia. 4:00 PM (CET/POL) 10:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Poland – TVP SPORTS (TV) North America – Olympics Channel (Stream)

Nov 14th – Norway vs Poland. 4:00 PM (CET/POL) 10:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Poland – TVP SPORTS (TV) North America – Olympics Channel (Stream)

We will update Olympic Channel streams as links are available. All will be posted by the IIHF here.

Men’s Senior Team. Baltic Challenge Cup

Nov. 11th – Poland vs. Lithuania. 2:00 PM (CET/POL) 8:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 12th – Poland vs. Latvia. 2:30 PM (CET/POL) 8:30 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 13th – Estonia vs. Poland. 6:00 PM (CET/POL) 12:00 PM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Men’s U20 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 13th – Poland vs. Ukraine. 7:00 PM (CET/POL) 1:00 PM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 14th – Poland vs. Ukraine. 11:10 AM (CET/POL) 5:10 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Men’s U18 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 13th – Poland vs Ukraine. 1:00 PM (CET/POL) 7:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Nov. 14th – Poland vs Ukraine. 4:00 PM (CEST/POL) 10:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: PZHL Youtube Stream

Women’s U18 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 11th – Poland vs. Iceland. 8:30 PM (CEST/POL) 3:30 PM (EST/NA)

Watch: IHI Youtube Stream

Nov. 12th – Poland vs. Great Britain. 5:30 PM (CET/POL) 12:30 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: IHI Youtube Stream

Nov. 13th – Poland vs. Spain. 4:15 PM (CET/POL) 11:15 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: IHI Youtube Stream

Men’s U16 Team. Exhibition

Nov. 12th – Poland vs. Hungary. 4:40 PM (CET/POL) 10:40 AM (EST/NA)

Nov. 13th – Poland vs. Hungary. 11:00 AM (CET/POL) 5:00 AM (EST/NA)

Watch: Stream unknown. If games are streamed it will most likely be on the Hungary Federation Youtube channel.

No Defense Allowed. 5 Thoughts 2019 U20 D1B World Championship

This year the U20 team was packed with plenty of offensive talent highlighted by NHL Draft hopeful Jakub Lewandowski. The team possessed a very young defense that had a lot of returning players. The goaltending duo had impressed last year and even if they did half as well Poland looked have promotion secured on paper. Of the three units, only one of them was able to live up to their expectations. The offense did great while the defense and goaltending suffered. As a disclaimer, I was only able to watch a handful of games, which brings us right to the first thought.

Sorry Excuse for Streams

About a month before this tournament, Ukraine hosted a four-nation U20 tournament. All of those games were streamed on Youtube in okay quality. This year Ukraine originally only planned to stream Ukraine games on Facebook. In the end, random select games received very poor quality streams that appeared to be shot on a camera from the early 1990s. This comes at a time when there is a lot of criticism the IIHF has received for the lack of quality streams.

Streams for tournaments are decided by the host federation and them alone for most tournaments. IIHF senior world championships seem to be the only exception for that. It should be a requirement though for hosting a tournament that the host is able to provide quality streams for the tournament. For these junior players especially this is the most exposure they will get and a great chance to gain film. In a perfect world, these streams would be handled by the IIHF and streamed on their Youtube channel.

Put In The Third String

Poland’s goaltending was very disappointing in this tournament. The duo of Sebastian Lipinski and Maciej Miarka both played poor in their appearances. Of goaltenders to appear in at least 40% of their teams total minutes, Lipinski finished dead last with a .819 save percentage. Back up goalie Miarka posted a .775 save percentage in his limited time. While one tournament is not the end-all for everything, Poland’s goaltending future does not seem as secure as once believed.

An NHL Draft Worthy Performance

Jakub Lewandowski was a stud in this tournament and put in the performance one would hope with his resume. This tournament was his and he put up 13 points to lead the entire tournament in scoring. Lewandowski proved he is a step above all other Polish talents. He was off to a hot start in the United States Hockey League, but cooled off. Hopefully, the U20 World Championship will help bring back his early-season production.

JL gif.gif 

Bieniek’s Breakthrough

In my limited viewing, Szymon Bieniek was Poland’s most impressive defenseman. He has the two-way game to thrive at both ends. I think he has a very good chance to be Poland’s best defensemen since Pawel Dronia. He has excelled in the states being named both a player of the month and to the NAPHL all-star game.

Sarnik’s Second Chance

Poland’s U20 team head coaches usually have two to three years reigns. Jaroslaw Morawiecki had three seasons at the helm, Andrei Parfenov lasted two years at the top, Torbjörn Johansson led the team for three, then David Leger just had one year. This was Sarnik’s second chance at leading the team and he now has led them to their worse finish this century. The U20 team needs a new coach and Poland should bring in a foreign coach to aid with that development. I don’t believe Poland currently has a coach that can develop talent to higher levels and produce results.

Quick Thoughts

– Klaudiusz Libik’s lack of experience seems to be catching up with him in his development. He remains one of Poland’s best defensive prospects though.

– Kamil Walega maybe the best offensively talented player developed in Poland in the last few years

– There were plenty of special offensive players in this tournament. All of Damian Tyczynski, Igor Smal, Jakub Blanik, Maciej Witan, and Sebastian Brynkus deserve a lot of praise.

– As is custom for almost every tournament. Too many penalties. Poland ranked second in the tournament with 75.

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