0201-cracovia Photo: Cracovia has struggled to penetrate the Tyszanie's defence, led by cunning keeper Arkadiusz Sobecki / photo by Thomas Crestodina

Cracovia’s hockey squad is off to a strong start in their winter campaign, with seven victories and only one defeat behind them so far. The retooled squad most recently bested JKH GKS Jastrzębie with an overtime 3:2 victory at home, with goals coming from the familiar duo of brothers Leszek and Daniel Laszkiewicz. The sole Krakow hockey team leads the standings with 18 points, and is the Polish Ice Hockey Federation’s entrant in the IIHF Continental Cup, a tournament for club hockey that originated in Eastern Europe, and now includes several less prestigious leagues from Western Europe, including Switzerland and Austria.

After conceding the championship in a sloppy final last year to bitter local rivals Nowy Targ, Cracovia sent a number of players packing and lost several others, including offence men David Musiał, Michał Radwański, and Filip Drzewiecki, as well as key defenders Martin Dudaš and Marian Csorich, and backup goalkeeper Marek Rączka. As promised by the management, the team looked overseas to fill the voids they left, bringing in two Canadian-Polish left-handed-shooting dual citizens. 26-year-old Rafał Martynkowski arrived from the Ontario Hockey League, and made his mark on 19 September with three goals against GKS Stoczniowiec Gdańsk, while 22-year-old David Kostuch was recruited following his second season on his university squad at Canisius College, and has made an even bigger splash with five goals so far. By recruiting dual citizens, the team sidesteps league rules limiting the number of foreign players who can be on the roster. The club’s – and the league’s – scoring leader is still veteran team captain Leszek Laszkiewicz, born and raised in Jastrzębie-Zdroj, with eight goals and five assists.

For those interested in picking up this sport, hockey equipment is available online from goaliemonkey.com

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