Bytom welcomes IIHF
by Martin Merk|14 DEC 2022
Luc Tardif and Petr Briza at the press conference.
photo: Michal Chwieduk
On Sunday, the IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group B started in Bytom, Poland. On the ice for the opening ceremony was also IIHF President Luc Tardif, who was invited to join the event in Poland while also holding several meetings.

At the various events in Poland, he was joined by IIHF Senior Vice-President Petr Briza, IIHF Council member Anders Larsson, who serves as chairperson of the tournament directorate in Bytom, IIHF Council member Marta Zawadzka, who is also a Vice-President of the Polish Ice Hockey Federation, and representatives of the Polish Ice Hockey Federation (PZHL) led by President Miroslaw Minkina.

On Monday, prior to the games, the leadership of the IIHF and the PZHL met with the media representatives in Bytom. 

“IIHF championships in junior categories are very important for the personal development of players, no matter at which level or whether they are male or female. They get the chance to represent their country here in Bytom or a few weeks later on the women’s side in Katowice, which is an opportunity they may not get again in the next few years at senior level. Here they have the experience of being on a national team with their country’s best players in a similar age group competing against other nations,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif. Asked about the scouts present on the tribune, he added: “Scouts will watch the games on the tribune or via stream. It’s a great opportunity to assess the abilities of players, whether they plan to move to professional hockey in Poland, to a foreign club or to combine hockey and studying.”

The Nikodemowicz Brothers Ice Rink in Bytom is the newest arena for ice hockey in Poland and when asked about the rink situation, Briza underlined the importance of having rinks available for the sport.

“Having an adequate number of ice rinks is important to develop the sport. In many regions and countries, the biggest hurdle to make ice hockey bigger is the lack of ice time. In Poland, there are currently 25 indoor ice rinks, in Czechia it’s 183 and in Finland 289 despite smaller populations. This is one of the main reasons why there are so many more teams and players in these countries and why they won medals at the last World Championship,” said Briza. “We know that Poland has a great history and passion for ice hockey and hope that more rinks like this will be built because there is a big potential.”

“In order for our discipline to develop, we need more ice rinks such as those in Bytom and other large international events,” said PZHL President Miroslaw Minkina and pointed out the growing advertisement value of the Polish Hockey League of 34 million zloty in the last season and of 23 million zloty for the national team according to the Institute of Media Monitoring (IMM) in Warsaw. “Both figures show that cooperation with us pays off.”

In Bytom, meetings were scheduled with the Polish Ice Hockey Association, the city’s President Mariusz Wolosz, Polish Olympic Committee President Andrzej Krasnicki, and WADA President Witold Banka.
L-R Marta Zawadzka, Luc Tardif, Witold Banka, Miroslaw Minkina and Petr Briza.
photo: Michal Chwieduk