Polish Hockey League has started

Polish Hockey League has started

15 Sep 2011 | Piotr Kaczmarek

In Nowy Targ Podhale lost to the 2011 Champion, Cracovia 4-5.

- eurohockey.com

This season 8 teams will play in PLH. Every team will play 42 games (6 rounds with 7 games). PZHL also cancelled the bonus rule in play-offs.

Teams from places 1-4 will play for medals, teams from places 5-8 will play for avoiding relegation. One team will be relegated and will be replaced next season by the winner of 1. Liga.

Cracovia is, as usual, one of the favorites this season. They are a little weaker than last year after they lost some key-players (Pasiut, Łopuski, Noworyta and Kłys). However they also gain very good successors: French defender Nicolas Besch (from Jukurit Mikkeli), Czech forward Petr Seidler (from Slezan Opava) and two Polish-born players: Nick Sucharski (from Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, CHL) and David Brodawski (from Rosenborg). After last year this kind of signings (Martynowski and Kostuch), made during last off-season will probably also very good.

For places 1-4 after the regular season (besides Cracovia), four teams will play: GKS Tychy, Unia Oświęcim, JKH Jastrzębie and KH Sanok. All four teams made some really good signings, and also still have stable financial situation.

GKS Tychy signed Marek Rączka. He should be good back-up for Sobecki. GKS strengthened the offensive power with four experienced forwards: The Kozłowski brothers from Zagłębie, Grzegorz Pasiut (Cracovia) and Teddy da costa (Dragons de Rouen, France). They also gain two young players: Łukasz Sośnierz (Naprzód Janów) and Martin Przygodzki (Dukla Trencin).

Unia Oświęcim signed three players from Cracovia: defenders Jarosław Kłys, Patryk Noworyta and forward Mikołaj Łopuski. Moreover they signed Czech forward Radek Prochazka from Kometa Brno, which should be the next foreign star of the team after Krajci and Riha.

JKH Jastrzębie is building a strong team since they were reactivated in 2005. During this off-season JKH signed four players from Stoczniowiec Gdańsk: Mateusz Rompkowski, Filip Drzewiecki, Mateusz Strużyk and Szymon Marzec. JKH changed also theirs foreigner defender: Patrik Rimmel is replaced by Martin Ivičič (from KH Sanok). JKH invested in some young players. Besides Marzec and Strużyk they also signed Patryk Kogut (from Janów) and Mateusz Ryszkaniec (SMS Sosnowiec) and the little older Sebastian Owczarek (Sanok).

The great loser of last season, KH Sanok, again changed many, mainly defensive players. Goalies Plaskiewicz and Rączka, defenders Bigos, Koseda, Ivicic, Owczarek and Suur left the team. In their place they signed goalies: Przemysław Odrobny, Bartosz Maza (both from Stoczniowiec), Daniel Kachniarz (JKH), and defenders: Pavel Mojžíš (Kometa Brno), Ivo Kotaška (Ceske Budejowice), Dawid Maciejewski, Paweł Skrzypkowski (both Stoczniowiec), Paweł Dronia (Unia) and young Łukasz Bułanowski (Legia Warszawa). Sanok also signed two forwards: Marcin Kolusz (Podhale) and Josef Vitek (GKS). After these Sanok has on paper probably the strongest team in the league. However, last season the situation was similar but Sanok didn't play for the medals.Much depends on how quickly the new players will become a good team.

Podhale will play next season with mainly own prospects. Moreover they lost some of their experienced players (Kapica, Kolusz, Baranyk, Bakrlik). Fortunately, Canadian Kelly Czuy decided to play in Podhale again. Czuy, with some older players (Rajski, Łabuz, Różański and Dutka) will be the strength of Podhale this season.

Zagłębie Sosnowiec, after last season’s financial issues, tries to rebuild the team. The players they signed, with some exceptions (Zdenek, Ślusarczyk, Kostecki) aren't as good as they had before last season and this season they have to fight very hard to remain in PLH.

Nesta Toruń returned to PLH after one season in 1. Liga. Nesta won all league games they played last season, but PLH is another story. Nesta lost two Latvians Adamovics and Lavrenovs. In their place they signed another Latvian Aivars Gaisins. Moreover they signed four players from Stoczniowiec: Smeja, Maj, Ziółkowski and Jankowski. They are also interested in signing the next player from Gdańsk, Marek Wróbel. Goalie Plaskiewicz and defender Koseda back to Toruń after one season in Sanok. All of them have only one task: to save PLH for Toruń.

Due to financial issues of some teams (Stoczniowiec, KTH Krynica) PLH was reduced to eight teams. Last three teams I described are poorer than the first five, and all of them will be happy to reach the play-off at all.

KTH Krynica fought the whole off season to start in PLH, but finally lost. Stoczniowiec due to tragic management lost that fight right after the end of last season. KTH will play this season in 1. Liga, Stoczniowiec only in junior leagues. Over all these bad news there is one good. A few days ago Naprzód Janów, relegated from PLH last season and a team with also big financial issues, got license to play in 1. Liga.

It is true that earlier PZHL announced that the 1. Liga will have six teams (HC GKS Katowice, Polonia Bytom, SMS Sosnowiec, KTH Krynica, Orlik Opole and Legia Warszawa), but I hope that Naprzód will be added to 1. Liga. The 1. Liga season will be started in October.

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