Poland edges epic clash
by Andy Potts|28 APR 2022
Poland captain Kryztian Dziubinski battles for a shooting position during his country's game against Ukraine in Division IB in Tychy.
photo: Michal Chwieduk
It took a shoot-out to separate Ukraine and Poland in a terrific clash in Division IB in Tychy. After a breathless 65 minutes the teams were deadlocked at 2-2 before Jakub Bukowski's attempt won it for the host nation.

Bukowski and Filip Komorski were Poland's scorers in the shoot-out, with only Roman Blagy finding the net for Ukraine. And when Andri Mikhnov missed on his attempt, the Poles had their second victory of the competition - albeit by the tightest of margins.

Poland's head coach Robert Kalaber admitted that his team rode its luck at times. "It was a very tough game. This Ukrainian team is solid on defence and is well-organised. We had some good fortune, but when I woke up this morning I knew it would be a good day."

Earlier, Dominik Pas twice put Poland ahead but on an emotional night for both sets of fans, Ukraine responded with markers from Yevgen Fadyeyev and Myhailo Simchuk.

For Pas, 22, these were his first goals in international hockey. "I'm not really dedicating them to anyone," he admitted. "But these are very important for me and I'm sure it's just the start. I hope there will be more important goals to come."
Ukraine vs Poland - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B
UKR POL 28 APR 2022
The game was played in a fervent atmosphere, with both teams well supported in the Zimowy Stadion. However, the sense of occasion made it hard for either team to settle in an early passage of sometimes frantic activity with little space for cool heads to dictate the play.

Polish defenceman Maciej Kruczek felt that the mental aspect played a big role, especially as the game progressed. "We're professional hockey players, so we have to put all the emotions of the game to one side and concentrate on doing our jobs," he said. "In the end, the most important thing was that we believed we could win. We had that belief and we concentrated on it."

Gradually, Poland started to get on top. There was a big chance for the home team midway through the first period when Alan Lyszczarczyk’s shot was redirected by Krystian Dziubinski. Unsighted, Ukraine’s goalie Sergi Pysarenko reacted at the very last to kick the puck to the side and keep the scoreboard blank.

It was only a temporary reprieve. Poland got in front on 12 minutes when Pawel Zygmunt released Pas in centre ice. As the Polish forward came through the middle, an overlapping team-mate left Igor Merezhko torn between going to the puck or cutting out a pass. The indecision was final; Pas took matters into his own hands and fired off a shot that gave Pysarenko no chance.

Soon after that, Ukraine got a 5-on-3 power play. The first attempts at a breakthrough resembled a blunt implement, all weight and energy but little finesse. Instead, a more delicate approach prevailed and Merezhko’s feed from the point found Fadyeyev in space beside the post. The 24-year-old Kyiv native, who has played most of his career in the USA, fired his shot through John Murray’s defences and generated a noise every bit as loud as the roar that greeted Poland’s opener. There was almost a full minute of 5-on-4 for the home team to endure, but Ukraine was unable to press home its advantage.

The volume went up another notch in the 18th minute when Pas restored Poland’s lead. He started the move, spreading play to the right wing where Patryk Wronka was able to get clear of the Ukrainian D. A pass fired into the slot fell perfectly for Pas to put his snipe onto the top shelf.

There was no further scoring in the second period. Ukraine had an anxious moment when goalscorer Fadyeyev took a big hit from Bartosz Ciura behind the Polish net and had to be helped from the ice. Happily the forward recovered quickly and returned to the game.

At the other end, Poland’s best chance came on the power play, with Zygmunt close to stuffing the puck home at the back door, only for Pysarenko to deny him with a sprawling save. And in the last minute of the frame Ukraine twice went close with Simchuk causing problems for Murray as his team looked to tie the game.

And it was Simchuk who found a way through early in the third, intercepting a loose puck on halfway and sprinting to the net. The 19-year-old, who father Konstantin is on the Ukrainian coaching staff here, had Felix Morozov in support but beat Murray without help from his team-mate.

For coach Kalaber, Poland's inability to hold its lead was a frustration. "The problem for our team is taking chances," he said. "We had a lot of opportunties but we don't score enough. Our power play is a problem, especially.

"We don't just want to win games, we want to play good hockey and entertain the crowd."

However, goalscorer Pas, who plays his club hockey under Kalaber at Jastrzebie, hopes that Thursday's game can be a turning point.

"Beating Ukraine should be good for us," he said. "It should give us more confidence and belief in ourselves."

As the game progressed, there were chances at both ends. Kamil Walega got around the back for Poland and his feed flashed across the crease. At the back door Patryk Wadja attempted to side foot it in, but the play remained live as the puck hit the side netting and Bartlomiej Jeziorski almost stuffed it over the line.

At the other end, the crossbar saved the Poles when Roman Blagy let fly, then Denys Borodai stole the puck from Ciura and attempt to repeat Simchuk’s scoring move. This time, though, Murray shut the door to keep the game tied at 2-2.

When Poland got on the power play with 5:30 to play, the pressure on Ukraine’s net intensified. Diligent defence from the visitors kept the scores level, and Pysarenko made a huge stop when Jeziorski found Filip Komorski unguarded in front of the net just as the penalty was ending.

The host couldn’t find a winning goal on that power play, but it did seize the momentum and got another chance to wrap up the game with a one-man advantage. As Blagy sat for boarding, Robert Kalaber called a time-out to prepare one final effort to unlock the Ukrainian defence. Pas almost won it by himself, but a weaving rush ended with a weak shot, Wronka found the side netting and Ukraine withstood the surge to take the game into overtime.

Early in the extras, Poland got on the power play. Ukraine took two penalties late in regulation and the Poles took the momentum and piled the pressure on to Pysarenko’s net. Pas was millimetres away from completing a game-winning hat-trick when he found the side netting with the bottom corner of the net at his mercy but Ukraine held on and returned to full strength.

At the other end, Dmytro Nimenko and Vitali Lyalka fashioned an odd-man rush that ended with the Polish net off its moorings but still intact then, with a minute to play, there was a power play chance for the men in blue to snatch the win after Wronka was called for tripping. Now it was Ukraine calling the time-out, but Murray twice came up with big saves to send us to a shoot-out and ultimately carry Poland to victory.
Ukraine vs Poland - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B