Thank you for dropping by the hockey romance blog! I’m one of the authors who hangs out here, and thank goodness I can, because I’m probably the most remote. Why? Well I’ve just moved to Southern Poland with my husband’s job. It’s not permanent but it is for a year or so.
As an author big life changes can be super inspirational, and of course that is something I’m always on the search for – and find in many ways. What I haven’t had to search very hard for here in Poland is hockey.
The Polska Hokej Liga is the premier ice hockey league in Poland.
The championship started in 1927. At first, it was a non-league system composed of regional tournaments. The tournaments had two stages. The best teams qualified to the final tournament, of which the winner was declared champion. In 1938, the Polish Ice Hockey Federation decided to reorganize the championship, by creating a league system. Of course, everything had to be put on hold due to World War II.
On an international level Poland was a regular participant of the early Winter Olympics, first competing at the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where they finished ninth out of eleven teams.
Financed by state coal money from the 1950s to the 1970s the Polish hockey team was a regular at the top level upsetting the Swedes, Finns, and Czechoslovaks from time to time. They hosted the World Championship in 1976, with the matches taking place in Katowice (a place I’ve spent quite a bit of time in recently and just hosted the International Climate Conference.) At this tournament Poland defeated the Soviet Union 6–4 in their opening match, the first time Poland ever won against the Soviets and what is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in international hockey history.
In the 2006 Olympics Poland played 5 matches. In the first game, the team managed four goals against West Germany but it was not enough as they lost 7-4. Four days later the Poles took on Czechoslovakia who dominated the whole game throughout and won 7-1, but after the drug testing, the officials found that one of the Czech players tested positive for doping and they awarded Poland with a 1-0 victory, although they didn’t receive any points in the standings. With only two games left and no points in the standings, Poland had no shot at a medal, but still played the last two games against the United States and Finland.
Poland at the 2017 World Championship in Ukraine finished fourth. They took on the Netherlands and went down early in the first period but managed to tie it about four minutes later. The Dutch team scored twice more in the period to lead 3-1. Polish hero Wieslaw Jobczyk (who scored a hat trick in the 1976 upset against USSR) scored to put Poland within one goal but the Netherlands stormed back to get two more goals before the third period to make it 5-2. The Polish ended up losing 5-3 and saw their hopes of the Medal round come to an end. They had one more game against Japan, who had not won any games in the tournament and only tied once. Poland burst out in the first period and scored 3 goals before twenty minutes had ended. They scored two more goals and Japan seemed out of it. The final score was 5-1 for Poland. The team’s final record was 2-3-0 and received 4 points in the standings.
Communist rule ended in 1989 and during the 1990s the first two Polish-born and trained players were selected in the NHL Entry Draft: Mariusz Czerkawski was selected in the 1991 by the Boston Bruins, and Krzysztof Oliwa in 1993 by the New Jersey Devils; Oliwa won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000, the first and only Pole to do so.
I know I’ll be inspired to write stories set in Poland over the next year, apart from anything else the language is so sexy (and I’m trying really hard to learn). So far all but one of my hockey novels have been set in the US, but Russian Heat heads east, so if you fancy some of that seductive lingo and raw talent, grab yourself a copy of RUSSIAN HEAT and in the meantime…I’ll get writing.
Thank you for reading. Have a great day. Find out more about HOT ICE here.