Tag: Men’s U20

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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Polish Men’s U20: Preview, Roster Breakdown, and Predictions

The 2023 IIHF international season will kick off for Poland as they host the U20 Division 1 Group B World Championships in Bytom. Poland will be competing in their group for the ninth straight season. They are only competing in Group B for a ninth straight year as Belarus and Russia were suspended from IIHF play for the 2023 season. Their suspensions resulted in Poland staying in the group despite being relegated last year. So what happened last year, and can this team avoid the same pitfall?

2022 was a tournament ground for sounding alarms that Polish junior hockey might be in deep trouble. Poland lost all five games they played, including blowout defeats to France and Japan, while also getting embarrassed late and beaten in overtime by Estonia. Both Poland’s offense and goaltending were non-existent in the tournament. Poland also showed an incredibly undisciplined brand of hockey that saw them average a period per game shorthanded. The performance left me calling for jobs and significant lineup changes. Player wise we will see a lot of changes this year, but the staff remains the same.

The Staff 

SMS PZHL Katowice coach Artur Ślusarczyk remains behind the bench as head coach for the Polish U20 squad. This will be his second IIHF tournament for Poland as a head coach. Along with leading the U20 team last year, Ślusarczyk was an assistant coach for the men’s senior team at the Division 1 Group B World Championships, where the team won gold and promotion. He was also a part of the Polish staff that won gold and promotion with the U18 team in division two. I hope to see a much better performance from his roster this time around. 

Arkadiusz Burnat and Bartłomiej Nowak will return as assistant coaches, Nowak liking serving as the goaltending coach. Both served with Ślusarczyk on Poland U18 but are still very young in their coaching careers. Nowak briefly served as goaltending coach with GKS Katowice in 2022 but was relieved of his duties three months into the year. Burnat previously worked as a player coach with UKH Debica in the second league. Marta Zawalska will once again serve as team manager. It will be her fifth time in the role for Poland IIHF teams.


Poland brought in four goalies to camp this year. Mikołaj Szczepkowski is the only goalie returning from last year’s team. He had some highlights against Slovenia but struggled greatly at times. He has spent the entire season in the MHL with UKS Zaglebie Sosnowiec posting a .888 SV%. He did start one of Poland’s pre-tournament games against Ukraine, stopping 33 shots and allowing two goals in the 4-2 win. I expect him to be the main starter for Poland at the tournament. 

The starter for Poland’s other friendly match was Szymon Klimowski. In the pre-tournament match, Klimowski stopped 30 shots in a 2-1 loss. This year he played in four matches for Podhale Nowy Targ, posting a .863 SV%, which is up from his numbers in seven games last year. He also owns a .852 SV% in 7 MHL games. I expect him to splint starts with Szczepkowski. 

Filip Wiszyński and Tomasz Grobelkiewicz also attended camp but only served as backups against Ukraine. To me, that was the sign of who Poland will take as their goalies for their tournament. I thought Grobelkiewicz would grab the starting spot this year. He has the best stats in the MHL with a .902 SV% in 9 games for Polonia Bytom. He was also great last year for SMS PZHL Katowice. Plus, if you’re a goalie-size person, he is the tallest goalie by two inches. Wiszyński also had a solid season with UKS Niedzwiadki Sanok, posting a .897 SV% in 9 games.. A really tough choice for Poland, with all goalies being in their final year of eligibility.


The defense comes in with ten skaters, so I expect three cuts from the group. Only two players will be returning from last year. Kacper Maciaś is going to be the defensive leader on this team. The 19-year-old will be making his final appearance for the U20 squad and has played in 22 PHL games this year with GKS Katowice. Young promising defenseman Eryk Schafer will also be returning. At only 18, Schafer will already play in his second U20 IIHF tournament. He was a ball of energy last year, and I’m excited to see how he has developed.

The remaining eight can be split into the 19-year-olds and the young players looking to make their mark early. Outside of the two returning locks, Marlon Wróbel seems like a lock to make it. Wróbel played in 15 games this year in the PHL with STS Sanok. He also has 12 points (1-11-12) in 15 MHL games. He spent both games against Ukraine on the top pairing with Kacper Maciaś. Jakub Wilk, Jan Stępień, & Szymon Gurzyński from Polonia Bytom are all trying to make the squad in their final year of eligibility as well. Stępień and Wilk seem likely to make the team as Poland’s third defensive pairing, as they played in the spot in both games against Ukraine. Both have been a steady presence for Bytom this year, with Wilk leading defensemen in points on the team. Gurzyński appeared in only one friendly game and took two minor penalties on the fourth pairing. 

In the group of young players, Oliwier Kurnicki has cemented himself on the second pairing with Torun teammate Eryk Schafer. Kurnicki scored against Ukraine in Poland’s 4-2 win in their first exhibition match. He has had a great club season with two assists in 15 PHL games on KH Torun, along with 14 points in 15 games at the MHL level. Karol Sobecki is someone I thought would challenge to make the roster at 17 like Schafer did last year. Sobecki has appeared in 12 games for GKS Tychy, along with scoring twice in nine MHL games. He would be my pick for the seventh defenseman. Blazej Chodor also had his shot at making the team. The 17-year-old has a lot of potential, but I’m not sure if he will be ready this year for the U20 squad. Kacper Łukawski has an outside chance at grabbing the final spot on the team, given his familiarity with head coach Ślusarczyk. Chodor, Sobecki, and Łukawski only appeared in one game in the fourth pairing during friendly matches. It seems Poland came in pretty set with their defense. 


The biggest thing about the offense is Krzysztof Macias. Not since Alan Łyszczarczyk has Poland had such an all-star player in their squad, and Macias might even be better. This year already, he has made his debut with the senior national team and at the top level of hockey in Czechia. Macias might be the best prospect to come out of Poland in the past decade. Poland will no doubt be hoping he can carry this team to gold. 

He won’t be alone in that quest, as Poland has a decent supporting cast. Poland brought 15 forwards to camp, and about eight players seem to have their spots secured. Still expect two cuts from this group. On the top line, he is likely to be joined by Jakub Ślusarczyk, his teammate at HC Vitkovice U20. Ślusarczyk has been one of Poland’s best performers on the international stage and is starting to prove himself on the club level in Czechia. They will not be the only players from the Czech U20 league as Adrian Gromadzki (HC Dynamo Pardubice U20), Aleks Menc (HC Karlovy Vary U20), Michał Kusak (HC Karlovy Vary U20), and Patryk Kusak (HC Olomouc U20) have all likely locked their place on the roster. Six forwards in Czechia’s top U20 level is a rare sight for Poland and will give them some solid options up and down the lineup. 

Outside Poland’s junior prospects in Czechia, Karol Sterbenz and Szymon Maćkowski have locked spots. Sterbenz plays for HK Poprad U20 in Slovakia’s top U20 league and has seen a decent production increase compared to last season. He spent both exhibition games on the top line with Macias and Ślusarczyk. Szymon Maćkowski made it to the PHL this year and has two goals and two assists with KH Torun in 17 games. That leads all U20 skaters in the PHL by two points. Paweł Wybiral should also be safe, given he is returning from last year’s team, where he recorded a goal and assist in five games. 

This leaves six players for the four remaining spots, who will be the fourth line and the extra skater. Arkadiusz Karasiński, David Wawrzkiewicz, Filip Sienkiewicz, Marcin Dulęba, Mikołaj Kociszewski, and Piotr Ciepielewski. Only one of the players from this group played in both exhibition games against Ukraine, which seemed to set the lineup for the tournament, especially in the top six and on defense. Arkadiusz Karasiński playing in both games makes me think he is safe, and I would be very happy to see the Lodz hockey product make it. Mikołaj Kociszewski has experience with the head coach and has been a top scorer in the MHL. Piotr Ciepielewski has PHL experience and substantial MHL numbers. Filip Sienkiewicz spent most of his year in the PHL with one goal in 18 games. David Wawrzkiewicz plays in the USA in the USPHL Premier, a league in which quite a few opponents also have players from. Marcin Dulęba is one of the best playmakers in the MHL and records some of the best U20 assist numbers in the league. You can argue for each player to appear on the final line. 

Projected Lineup

Krzysztof Macias – Karol Sterbenz – Jakub Ślusarczyk

Aleks Menc – Adrian Gromadzki – Michał Kusak

Patryk Kusak – Szymon Maćkowski – Paweł Wybiral

Mikołaj Kociszewski – Piotr Ciepielewski – Arkadiusz Karasiński

Filip Sienkiewicz

Kacper Maciaś – Marlon Wróbel

Eryk Schafer – Oliwier Kurnicki

Jakub Wilk – Jan Stępień

Karol Sobecki

Mikołaj Szczepkowski

Szymon Klimowski

Can this lineup compete better than last year in the group? It is hard to say; I feel very shaky about the goaltending with how they played last year. The defensive group should have a lot more chemistry this season, thanks to players that already play on the same paring in their club seasons. Still, it is not the best group Poland has ever taken to this tournament and has never really been the vital part. Offensively there is a lot of talent in this group, but its key players are also very young. Still another group that knows each other well, and that should help with chemistry. I overall feel better about this team thanks to the true star power it might have at the top. If the offense falters like last year, I don’t think the defense can recover. 


Poland will start the tournament on Sunday, Dec. 11, vs. Estonia. Estonia survived relegation last year by beating Poland in overtime. The goaltending on this team looks unknown, and together have played four total club games in 2022-23. Klaus Kaspar Jõgi will lead the team offensively, and he plays in the second level of US junior hockey, the NAHL. Deniss Kontseus and Nikita Stepanov, who play with Krefelder EV 1981 U20 (DNLU20), should also be considered scoring threats. Marek Potšinok is also doing well in the top level of Finnish junior hockey. A young potent offense will be scary, but they have questions on the defensive end and in the net. Estonia is much like Poland. Still, I like what I see here for Poland, and I predict a win. 

Poland’s second game will be on Monday, Dec. 12, vs. Ukraine. It is great to see Ukraine at this tournament. We also know how this match should go based on Poland’s pre-tournament matches. I like Poland’s chances as long as the offense can capitalize. I predict a second Poland win. 

Poland’s third game will be taking on Japan on Wednesday, Dec. 14.  Games vs. Japan are always hard to tell, given the lack of information about the junior level in the country. Still, they will have five players coming to the team that played in US junior leagues last year. The top name to watch is Yusaku Ando, who finished with nine points in five games last year. Japan only lost one of their top scorers from last year, while 6’5 goalie Ryuto Nakamoto will be joining this year after an impressive start to his USPHL season. I don’t see Poland finding a way to win this one. The Japan offense was too strong last year and only came back more experienced. 

Poland’s fourth contest will come against Italy on Friday, Dec 16. Poland will face off with likely the best player in the tournament, Tommy Purdeller, who currently plays in the Ontario Hockey League for the Peterborough Petes. Damian Clara should be a force in the net, possibly as well for the Italians. There are a lot of big names in big leagues on this squad, but a lack of depth. I don’t think Poland will be able to stop their rise. There is just too much talent and experience for Poland to overcome. 

Poland’s last match will be on Saturday, Dec 17, vs. South Korea. South Korea is the true wildcard of this tournament, as like Japan, there is little information about their team. They were promoted to Division 1 Group B due to the Belarus and Russia suspensions. The team looks to be hurting due to players aging out. South Korea will lose all five top scorers from last year, along with their starting goalie. I will give Poland a win here, but it is hard to say until the tournament begins. 

Final Record: 3-2. Good for Bronze


After a disastrous tournament last year, I do see Poland getting on track, but that is more due to the drop in talent for the division than it is the change in the team. Poland is lucky to be back in Division 1 Group B and can’t waste a golden opportunity to possibly get a promotion or at least stay in the group. Maybe there is a chance that Macias can carry Poland to gold with his strong offensive supporting cast, but it is just as likely that this young Polish team crumbles to their opponent’s star players like last year.

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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.

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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.

If you want to keep up with all the news, make sure to follow us on Twitter  @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.