Wronka wonder
by Henrik Manninen|04 MAY 2019
Can the skill and speed of Patryk Wronka elevate Poland above Romania during the final day and seal an instant return to Division IA?
photo: Hendrik Soots
He was one of Poland´s key-men sorely missed when they last year suffered relegation from Division IA. Now injury free and back up to full speed, Patryk Wronka has been lighting up the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B in Tallinn.

Sadly for Poland´s promotion prospects, they are currently on the back foot as crunch time looms during the final round of games in Tondiraba Icehall in Estonia´s capital. 

Poland needs to pin their hopes on Romania slipping up and drop at least one point against the Netherlands in order to keep hopes alive for a straight return to the Division IA.

Heading into a final day of games with many potential twists and turns, any foregone conclusion that Poland´s opponent Japan should be there for the taking is wide off the mark according to Wronka.

“It will be very different to when we played Ukraine and the Netherlands earlier in the tournament. I think Japan will forecheck on us, so it could be the toughest game so far,” he said.

Taking on Japan is a challenge Wronka will relish. With speed, tons of tricks up his sleeve, the 23-year-old livewire is the most eye-catching player in at the World Championship Division I Group B as he steams ahead out on the Tondiraba ice.

With Patrick Kane being his hero and wearing the same number 15 on the back of his jersey as Poland´s top scorer of all time, Andrzej Zabawa, he is clearly enjoying playing for his country under new head coach Tomek Valtonen.

“Now we play more open hockey which is better. Under the Canadian coaches it was forecheck every time,” said Wronka, who during his last couple of seasons in the Polish top division played under Canadian Tom Coolen at GKS Katowice. Coolen was also assistant to Ted Nolan as the pair was in charge of Poland when they were relegated from Division IA last year.
Patryk Wronka Top Plays
Top plays of Patryk Wronka during the first four rounds of the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B.
POL 04 MAY 2019
As a youngster, Wronka had for long been the talk of Polish hockey and was only 18 when then Jacek Plachta slotted in the teenage prospect from MMKS Nowy Targ together with Krzysztof Zapala and Tomasz Malasinski for his baptism of fire as Poland hosted the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships Division I Group A at the Spodek Arena in Katowice.

“It was a great memory and big moment for me. The coach put me on the first line and that made it easy for me,” he said when Poland came tantalizingly close for promotion as they finished third.

Played on the historical ground for Polish hockey where 30 years earlier, the mighty Soviet Union had been downed in the epic World Championship bout, Wronka enjoyed a great debut tournament. He received the Best Forward honour and made it to the All-Star Team. A deal was also penned to take him across the border to the Czech Republic to suit up for Orli Znojmo in the Austrian-based EBEL league.

“The EBEL league is better than the Polish league with the games being faster. In the EBEL every team is strong, while in the Polish league only five teams are good,” he said.

Lured back to Poland and Spodek after one season to suit up for GKS Katowice, he has in his two seasons since delivered points with ease and was top scorer of the Polish top division 2018/19. Relishing a fresh challenge, Wronka has decided to once again try his luck abroad as of next season. It is a career move he would encourage more Polish players to try in order to boost the potency of the national team. 

“We have players with good enough skills, but playing in Poland in our own league is easier for us. Maybe they are a little bit afraid to go abroad. I try now for next season to see what will be out there,” said Wronka. 

But first Wronka has unfinished business to take care of in Tallinn. Doing his utmost for the Polish cause and the contingent of traveling support, plenty is expected from Wronka and his free-scoring linemates Krystian Dziubinski and Damian Kapica. All three with roots in Nowy Targ they will be the ones to rely on for goals as Polish hopes still live on to squeeze past Romania on the final day.

“We have known each other for ten years, so it is easy for me to play with them. But first we need the Netherlands to go and beat Romania, as it is out of our hands until then,” said Wronka.