BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Poland vs Great Britain

Photo: Colin Lawson (Courtesy of IceHockeyMedia)

Poland vs Great Britain, Thursday 7th April, 13:00 CEST/12:00 BST, Sports Hall Bled. 

There’s no doubt that GB have played their get out of jail card. On Tuesday morning, GB’s destiny was out of their own hands and firmly dependant on Poland doing GB a favour. International Hockey can be brutal at times, one defeat early in the tournament and your entire year’s plans are thrown out of the window in an heartbeat.

But GB got that favour from Poland and now know that win or lose tomorrow, it’s in GB’s hands either way and tomorrow Great Britain will take on Poland for only the third time in the modern era. With the series tied between the nations at one win each, it’s a pivotal deciding game in more ways than one.

GB will need to win by two goals or more in order to give them chance to play for the Gold Medal on Friday realistically.

482Days takes a look at the key aspects of the game including a history lesson, looking at how GB and Poland have got to this point, key players to watch and 482 (or perhaps a lot less) Keys to a GB Victory.

The History

Great Britain and Poland have only met on two occasions previously with the Poland women’s team only a very recent addition to the family of Women’s hockey nations.

Wednesday 9th April 2014, IIHF World Women’s Championship Division IIA, Great Britain 1 – 4 Poland

It was all looking so good when Katherine Gale put GB 1-0 up after just 98 seconds. Poland would rally and do so quickly, with three goals one each for their first line forwards, Karolina Pozniewska, Agnieszka Pioro and Magdalena Czaplik. Despite 13 minutes of time on the powerplay, and forty shots on goal GB wouldn’t score again and a late goal by Pozniewska sealed the tie.

Saturday 4th April 2015, IIHF World Women’s Championship Division IIA, Poland 0 – 4 Great Britain

Payback. Great Britain produced one of their best performances in the championship in front of a home crowd of 723 in the Dumfries Ice Bowl. GB’s powerplay fired early when Jodie-Leigh Bloom got GB off the mark. Poland piled the pressure on the GB net in the 2nd period outshooting GB 16–9, but with Nicole Jackson in superb form she was unbeatable. GB added a 2nd half way through the third from Gale, and when Leanne Ganney made it three with five minutes to go GB had sealed a famous victory. Saffron Allen made it four with 30 seconds left and Jackson completed a 30 shot shutout.

The Form

Poland WWW

Poland come into this game with a perfect record in the championships so far.

Slovenia 2 – 9 Poland, Saturday – Poland go 4-0 up in the first, outshoot Slovenia 20-5 in first period alone. 9-2 at the end of the 2nd with Captain Katarzyna Frackowiak getting a hattrick. No more scoring in third.

DPR Korea 4 – 9 Poland – Big first period sees DPR Korea lead twice, before Poland take the lead 3-2 by the end of it. Poland win the 2nd period 2-1 to make it 5-3 overall, pull away in the third to win 9-4

Korea 1 – 2 Poland – Korea dominate the game early, outshooting Poland in the first two periods but for no scoring. Frackowiak scores early in the period, then gets a late controversial goal to seal the tie. Conceed late on but seal both points.

Great Britain WLW

Great Britain currently stand at two wins and a loss.

Great Britain 19 – 1 Croatia – GB 7-1 up after the first period, quiet second period sees only four goals, before GB score eight in the third to equal their third highest goals in a game. Allen gets four goals, Herbert, Henry hat-tricks. 50pts given out in the game overall.

Great Britain 0 – 1 Korea – Scoreless first period, Korea take the lead early in the 2nd by Hye In Ko. GB have six powerplays after that, but can’t find a way through and Korea’s netminder So Jung Shing completes a 21 shot shutout.

Great Britain 6 – 0 Slovenia – GB off to a flyer from Leanne Ganney just 30 seconds in. After well matched first, GB score two quick goals at the end of the 1st to make it comfortable at three. Two more in the second, one in the third, GB made to work for it but GB seal three important points.

Three to Watch out for

There’s without a doubt some talented players on the Poland bench. There’s three in particular that GB will have to handle tomorrow:

17 – Katarzyna Frackowiak –  Lethal in front of net, Frackowiak havs 6+1 including both goals against Korea, their pivotal game so far. Great at getting into difficult to defend positions and precise shooting although she did struggle on her breakaway chances. Poland’s top goalscorer and for a good reason, she needs to be closed down or she’ll get on the scoresheet.

7 – Karolina Pozniewska – Fast, two-way player, very skillful on the puck. Strong, aggressive player who backs up her physical play with a fast hands and an eye for goal. She’s a very talented player and GB will need to take her on at her own game.

1 – Martyna Sass – Butterfly goalie, who showed an acuteness for rebound control in Poland’s win over Korea. GB will have to make her move in order to beat her. Not unstoppable, as first period against DPR Korea showed, but once she gets going, looked very good indeed.

482 (or less) Keys to a GB Victory

Neutralise Poland’s Powerplay: Poland are currently running with a PP %age of 33%, 6/18, averaging a goal just over 4 minutes over powerplay time. GB have a great penalty killing rate of 14/15 (93%) but they must make sure they maintain that against tough opposition.

Take advantage of Poland’s Penalty Kill: Similar to the first point, but Poland have conceded 4 goals on 15 shorthanded plays, which puts them fourth in the tournament on that. GB”s powerplay hasn’t been firing on all cylinders, but this is a key area where GB can make it count.

Watch out for Shorthanded chances: Poland have already conceded two shorthanded goals while pushing on the powerplay. Clearly Poland are playing an aggressive powerplay which is fine, but with GB’s speed there could be

Make the goalkeeping count: GB’s combined save percentage is 97.33%, nearly five points higher than Poland (92.63%). In addition in GAA, GB have conceded just 0.67 a game, compared to Poland’s 2.33.

—-

482Days will be publishing a series of articles today from the tournament with interviews with key people! We’ll also have live twitter on Thursday from the key game and other day games.

April 6th, 2016 by