By Ben Leeson – The Sudbury Star
Alan Lyszczarczyk is eager to pull on the white-and-red jersey of team Poland once again.
The Sudbury Wolves forward will leave on Dec. 5 to join the Polish under-20 team to prepare for the the IIHF World Junior Division I Group B Championship, to be played in Budapest, Hungary on Dec. 11-17.
“I will try to make the team and help the guys win this tournament,” said Lyszczarczyk, 18, who hails from the city of Nowy Targ. “I am happy to be playing for Poland. It’s my country.”
Lyszczarczyk will play for the Wolves against North Bay on Dec. 2 and Barrie on Dec. 3 before departing for Europe.
The Poles will vie with Hungary, Great Britain, Italy, Slovenia and Ukraine for a promotion to Group A, one step down from the top division where Canada competes.
Lyszczarczyk took part in Team Poland’s U20 summer camp, which included exhibition games against club teams.
“This one is a little but different,” he said, comparing the level of play in the Group B championship to the OHL. “The hockey is not as fast or as strong, so the game might be a little bit easier, I don’t know, but these guys will be playing for their country, so they will play hard every game.”
Lyszczarczyk, along with his agent and Wolves management, decided to skip last year’s world junior tourney to focus on his development, but he did wear Polish colours for the IIHF World Under-18 Division II Group A Championship, played in Brasov, Romania on April 4-10.
He collected 12 points in five games to finish in a tie for the tournament scoring lead and help Poland earn gold and a promotion to Division I for next year.
While the Polish Ice Hockey Federation has not yet announced its U20 roster, it will likely include many of Lyszczarczyk’s U18 teammates and longtime friends.
“I am happy to see them again,” he said. “A lot of the guys are from my city, so I am friends with them.”
He isn’t quite as pleased with his start with the Wolves this season. One of the the Wolves’ leading scorers with 50 points in 2015-16, he’s off to a relatively slow start with four goals and seven assists in 17 games this year, good for sixth among Sudbury skaters.
“I want to play better,” he said. “I want to try to shoot more, because sometimes I have chances and I pass it, so I will try hard right now and play better.”
Wolves head coach Dave Matsos agreed with Lyszczarczyk’s assessment.
“I think we expect more out of Al, but he set the bar,” Matsos said. “Coming in as a first-year guy and a free agent, you get 17 goals and 50 points, we’re expecting big things out of you.
“We’re not disappointed in him as a person, he’s a great kid and he does everything right, he works hard, but he has had a slow start.”
Matsos agreed that firing pucks on goal rather than looking to set up teammates may benefit the second-year forward. It did last weekend, when Lyszczarczyk centred from behind the net and banked a puck off Mississauga Steelheads netminder Matthew Mancina to end an eight-game goalless drought.
“There’s nothing selfish about putting pucks to the net,” Matsos said. “Normally, good things happen. I don’t think we always need to find that perfect, pretty play with the team we got. Sometimes, less is more.”