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The Gem in Katowice

January 13, 2017

If you’ve been following along on my twitter you’ll notice I’ve been watching some games from the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship 1B Division. This is mostly because of my Polish heritage so I really want the Polish Hockey Federation as a whole to do well. Plus how can I say no to hockey in the morning? Another reason is a quote from the PGI podcast episode that featured goaltending guru Mitch Korn who said “if there’s a goalie in Uganda our scouts need to find them”.

 

Poland obviously isn’t Uganda but being in 1B division at nearly every level in the IIHF puts Poland in the shadows in terms of international hockey. In fact Poland has produced only one notable hockey player in Mariusz Czerkawski. With Poland improving the past few years they are developing some talent that could make an impact on day. One of those talents is Polish ’00 born goalie Martyna Sass who is the starting goalie for the U18 women’s team, played for Poland at the Olympic Qualifier and has one of the best last names for goaltending.

 

At the young age of 16 it’s obvious that Martyna Sass is a raw prospect which is to be expected. It is promising though that Sass is one of the top goalies of the 1B Division and she’ll most likely be there as the starting goalie again in 2018. In fact there’s a big chance we’ll see Sass again this year at the Women’s World Championship 1B Division tournament as Sass was the starter not only in the recent Women’s Olympic Qualifier tournament but in the 2016 Women’s World Championship 2A Division.

 

Looking back at the 2016 Women’s World Championship 2A Division tournament Sass was one of two 2000-born goalies in the tournament. The other goalie was Pia Dukaric of Slovenia who played three games compared to Sass’s five games. It appears that even at the young age of 15 years old the Polish Federation is looking at Sass as the default starter no matter the level which is impressive as Poland is winning games with Sass in net. Poland isn’t winning in spite of the ’00-born goalie, instead Poland is winning because of Matryna Sass and that winning translated into Poland being promoted into Division 1B.

 

What I like about Matryna Sass is her passion for hockey and goaltending. She hates when teams score on her and spends the rest of the game trying even harder to ensure that the opposing team doesn’t score on her again. Another positive about Sass’s game is her detail to the game. She’s  focused on having perfect form while being stationary and while performing lateral movements. I do like Sass’s quick lateral movements along with her superior glove hand and lastly her hunger to cover the puck. Last but not least Sass just loves being a part of the team by trying to make small, smart plays not only with the puck but by running small amounts of interference which are well known goalie tactics.

 

It’ll be interesting to see the path Sass takes. It seems that she is dedicated to hockey and as long as the opportunity is there I believe there is a strong chance that she will continue to grow. Yes there are definitely flaws in her game however those flaws are fixable with the right goalie coach. In time we could see Matryna Sass in either the NCAA or the CIS. Two other goalies I would advise keeping an ear out for from the U18 WWC 1B Division Tournament is Danish goalie Cassandra Repstock-Romme and Italian goalie Eugenia Pompanin.  

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