WARSAW – The Polish Ice Hockey Association named long-time national team player Jacek Plachta as head coach of the men’s national team.
Plachta has been the assistant coach of Igor Zakharkin, who leaves the team to join Vyacheslav Bykov in the coaching staff of SKA St. Petersburg. Zakharkin will remain in touch with the Polish national team as a consultant.
Zakharkin was coaching the Poles for two years and led Poland to gold at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in neighbouring country Lithuania and thus to promotion to the Division I Group A.
With Plachta the team will be back in Polish hands for the first time since the era of Wiktor Pysz (2000-2004, 2010-2012), who led Poland to one top division participation in 2002.
Plachta was one of the best Polish forwards of the last two decades. He represented Poland in ten IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments and was the scoring leader in two Division I / B-Pool events (1998, 2001). After playing in the top Polish league with GKS Katowice, he was playing in the top German league for 18 seasons until retiring in 2008. His son Matthias Plachta, 23, debuted for the German men’s national team in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
The 45-year-old was the head coach of several Polish club teams, Katowice, Tychy and most recently Krynica.
On the Polish national team Plachta will be assisted by a Russian, Sergei Pushkov, who was coaching Tonsberg Vikings (Norway) and Neman Grodno (Belarus) last season.
The new coaching duo will assemble the national team for the first time at the Škoda Cup in Dresden, Germany, 23-24 August where it will play Dresden (GER), Wolfsburg (GER) and Litvinov (CZE).
After earning promotion to the second level in men’s hockey, Poland will face Italy, Kazakhstan, Japan, Ukraine and Hungary in the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A next spring.
On the U20 national team Russian coach Andrei Parfenov will be replaced by a Swede, Torbjorn Johansson, who same as his predecessor will also work with the U18 national team and at the association’s sport school in Sosnowiec.
The 41-year-old played in the top leagues of Sweden, Russia, Germany and other countries during the ‘90s and 2000s. After quitting as a player he was working as a coach with junior teams at Leksand.
He will coach the U20 national team for the first time in the upcoming weekend with two exhibition games on home ice in Tychy against France.
In the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group B in Dunaujvaros, Poland will play Kazakhstan, France, Ukraine, Japan and host Hungary.
The U18 national team will compete in the Division II Group A in Tallinn and play Korea, Croatia, Netherlands, Great Britain and host Estonia.