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HUNGARIAN HOCKEY jégkorongozás





/ Hockey Suisse





An uncommon season in Polish Hockey, 1999/2000

(15-07-00 FlyBear) When most fans think of Polish hockey nowadays, the name that comes most quickly to mind is Marius Czerkawski. The "Polish Rifle" is one of the better pure goal scorers in the National Hockey League. But there is more to Polish hockey than just their most famous export to North America. The Polish Hockey League set ambitious goals for itself before the 1999-2000 season, while the Polish national team seemed poised to challenge for the top spot in the B-pool of the 2000 World Championships. In many regards, the 1999-2000 season proved to be something of a dissapointment for Polish hockey; many key objectives were not met. On the other hand, the developments of the past season showed that Polish hockey- both the domestic league and the national team- have a solid support base. Read an interesting retrospective of the 1999-2000 season in Poland and look ahead to the upcoming season.

Author: © e2rd Author information
Language correction: FlyBear
Date: 15-09-00
Translations: Czech (by Benik), German (by Schmiddy), Polish

1999/2000 was supposed to be a special season for the Polish hockey. They had big plans to set up a professional Hockey League. A single big investor was to have financed the league. Additionally, the goal was to focus on the countrywide presence of hockey in the mass media.
    A new coach was hired for the National Team and they worked on a new training concept. Long-lasting and expensive training camps should have become useless. This was supposed to lead to the long expected success in the World Championship of Group B.
    After countless instances of organizational turbulence, the national championship campaign started on September 5th, 1999.
    The hockey league was divided in two parts: The "Polska Liga Hokejewa" (Polish Hockey League - the Premier League) and the 1st League (equivalent of Division One in other European countries). Eight teams were part of the Polish Hockey League.

Unia Dwory S.A. Osvìtim
PZU S.A. KTH Krynica
Tymbark Podhale Nowy Targ
RKS Stoczniowiec Gdaòsk
KKH 100% Hortex Katowice
SKH Sanok
GKS Tyskie Gronie Tychy
KS Cracovia Krakow,

The regular season consisted of 42 games (21 home and 21 away). The winner of each game received 2 points in the standings, the loser none. In case of a tie after regulation time, there was an overtime of 10 minutes, played under "Golden Goal" rules, better know in ice hockey as "Sudden Death." This means that the team who shoots the first goal in overtime wins. The overtime winner still got 2 points and the loser none. If there was still no winner after overtime, the match was determined by a shootout. Both teams selected 5 shooters. Regardless of the score of the shootout (4-2, for instance) the winner got 2 standing points and +1 goal added to the official final result, while the loser did not get credited with any additional goals but received 1 point in the standings.
    A non-appearance by a team in a scheduled game was treated as a more serious matter than it was in the past. Due to teams suffering logistical and financial problems, the problem of no-shows had plagued hockey in Poland and other countries. An unexcused non-appearance by a team was punished by a forfeit loss, recorded officially as a 5-0 defeat (thereby injuring the offending team not only in point standings but also in the Goal Differential chart that is used as a tiebreaker in final league placement). Three such forfeit penalties meant disqualification from the championship.
    At the beginning of the season it was already clear that there would be no main sponsor for the league and live broadcasting of the games was still a pipe dream.
    The situation with clubs was similar. The time they had to handle problems in finance, training and organization had still not resulted in solutions.
    The team from Podhale could neither hold training camp nor play games in their own arena. The reason was a strike by the maintenance staff. These circumstances led to very bad results of this strong equip. Most of the other clubs had financial problems. Cracovia and KTH were afflicted most. Meanwhile, difficulties with "pseudo"-supporters, skirmishs and fights in the stands battered the reputation of GKS Tychy.
    The league games were played on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday.
    It was hard to predict the course and results of the games since all the teams presented a fairly balanced picture. The games often had to go to overtime or even to shoot-out. But there were also some extremely losided games- to the tune of a score difference of 14 goals! The battle for the profitable playoff berths remained undecided until the last game of the regular season. Beyond the untouchable league leader Unia Oswiecim, there were a few candidates for the remaining play-off places: KTH, Podhale, SKH Sanok and GKS Tychy. The last ones were the most surprising teams.
    SKH Sanok, the only team with a Polish coach and GKS Tychy with good foreigners had good ambition for the title. They played aggressive, solid hockey and stayed in touch with the top ranked teams for a long time. They even won against Unia Oswiecim. But, in the end, the old rivals, Podhale and KTH, took 2nd and 3rd place. This promised excitement for the title race.

Standing after regular season

1. Unia Oswiecim     42     72    198 – 71
2. Podhale N.Targ    42     55    178 – 122
3. KTH Krynica       42     55    160 – 93
4. GKS Tychy         42     51    153 – 108
5. SKH Sanok         42     44    130 – 131
6. RKS Stoczniowiec  42     28    119 – 139
7. KKH Katowice      42     29    116 – 175
8. Cracovia          42     9     81 - 295

After six rounds in the top league the
scoringlist was the following

1.   Slusarczyk (KTH)       41      23     28         51
2.   Horny (Unia)           38      23     22         45
3.   Tkacz (Tychy)          39      22     20         42
4.   Potoczny (Stoczniowiec)40      16     24         41
5.   Skuthan (Stoczniowiec) 40      24     15         39
6.   Slabon (KTH)           41      22     17         39
7.   Karatajew (Unia)       40      12     27         39
8.   Kwiatkowski (Unia)     39      21     17         38
9.   Puzio (Unia)           40      20     13         36
10.  Garbocz (Unia)         37      12     24         36

Artur Zlusarczyk, a forward from KTH Krynica, was the top scorer at the end of the1999-2000 regular season.
    On February 25, 2000, the Playoffs started in the Polish Hockey League PLH. The teams played three rounds under the seeding system of 1 vs 8 , 2 vs 7 , 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5, until May 14. Between then, they had a break of one month because of the B-level World Championship, held in Katowice.

1st round:
Unia Oswiecim – SKH Sanok 3:0
Podhale – KTH Krynica 3:0
KKH Katowice– Stoczniowiec 3:2
GKS Tychy – Cracovia 3:0

2nd round :
Unia Oswiecim – SKH Sanok 3:0
Podhale – KTH Krynica 3:0
KKH Katowice– Stoczniowiec 3:2
GKS Tychy – Cracovia 3:0

3rd round:
1-2 Best-of-seven
Unia Oswiecim - Podhale 4:1
3-4 Best-of-five
KTH Krynica - SKH Sanok 3:1
5-6 Best-of-three
GKS Tychy - KKH Katowice 2:0
7-8 do Best-of-five
Stoczniowiec - Cracovia 3:0

In the end, Unia Dwory Unia Oswiecim won the Polish title for the year 2000. The runner up was Podhale and the bronze medal was won by PZU S.A. KTH Krynica. It was sweet revenge indeed, since the year before KTH Krynica was 2nd and Podhale took 3rd.

Standing of the topscorer of the top league after the end of the Playoffs

1.  Horny (Unia)           49      27     30      57
2.  Karatajew (Unia)       51      17     38      55
3.  Slusarczyk (PZU SA KTH)47      25     28      53
4.  Kwiatkowski (Unia)     50      32     20      52
5.  Potoczny (Stoczniowiec)49      23     29      52
6.  Garbocz (Unia)         48      16     31      47
7.  Tkacz (GKS Tychy)      42      23     23      46
8.  Skuthan (Stoczniowiec) 49      26     17      43
9.  Slabon (PZU SA KTH)    48      21     22      43
10  Klisiak (Unia)         49      20     23      43
Karel Horny was the top scorer of the whole championship, including the Playoffs of 1999/2000.

During the '99-2000 season, three Polish teams participated in the Continental Cup

Unia Oswiecim – gr. G (II rnd)
KTH Krynica – gr. G (II rnd)
Podhale N. Targ – gr. B (I rnd)

Unfortunately, none were successful. In Group G , Unia Oswiecim qualified for the next games. They finally finished in Group N in 3rd place. It was a similar situation for Podhale. In the qualifying round, they only managed to reach 3rd place, despite a strong performance .
    There were great expectations for success at the B-level World Championships in Katowice. The first game in Gdansk did not bring the hoped-for result. This was a test for the new training concept and the work done with young players. The players that play in foreign leagues should have been a big help . Instead, the results turned out differently than expected- for the worse.
    The Polish team, with players like P Bachta , Szczepaniec, Pysz, Borzcki and, most notably, NHL sniper Czerkawski was able to bring some color and excitement into their games but lacked the consistent performance neeeded to take the top position in the tournament. Golden opportunities in the games against Kazakhstan and Great Britain were squandered carelessly. The team simply failed to live up to its potential. The Polish people had not had such a promising team to follow in a long time but such is life. They will probably have to wait now for another few years until a similarly promising group is assembled. But you never know.
    The past season was also unusual in another point of view unusual. Although the nationwide TV presence was missing, the responsible people couldn't complain about the level of interest in Hockey inthe other media. Most of the local papers as well as radio stations supported their home-team and the national team. The supporters with Internet connection shared information with other supporters during national as well as international games.
    In particular, the engagement of the Internet-Hockey-Community from all parts of Poland made it possible for a homepage to be created ( which devotes attention to the national hockey league . It contains discussion boards, results, statistics, news and so on.
    Thanks to the good performances of the national team and thanks to the enthusiastic supporters, Polish hockey is as popular in Poland as other top leagues in the world are in their home countries.
    We anxiously await the new season and we hope that it will be as unusual as the one last year.

Edi Szyska

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