The Komets’ players had to deal today with the disappointment of their season ending, and also rapidly figure out the logistics of where they’d go next.
That may have been most difficult for Alan Lyszczarczyk, who wanted to get back to Poland amid travel restrictions as the world dealt with COVID-19.
“I am nervous because I don’t know if they’ll shut down all flights,” said Lyszczarczyk, a 22-year-old rookie. “If they do that, I may not be able to get back to Europe and I’ll have to stay in the U.S. for I don’t know how long. That’s why I’m flying to England and I can stay in England. And if everything is better, than I can fly to Poland.”
Lyszczarczyk was the first Polish-born player in North American professional hockey since Wojtek Wolski skated for the Washington Capitals in 2012-13. And he was the first in the ECHL since Adam Borzecki played for the Jackson Bandits in 1999-2000.
Lyszczarczyk was one of the ECHL’s top rookies this season, ranking fifth among first-year players in points with 46, including 19 goals, in 57 games.
“I am happy with my season, but I feel like I can still be better a little bit,” Lyszczarczyk said. “I always feel like that, that I can be better at anything I do. So I hope next season, I will be better in hockey.”
The Komets had 10 games remaining in their 68th regular season before the ECHL suspended its season Thursday and then cancelled it altogether Saturday amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Komets had been headed toward their seventh straight playoff berth.
Since 1997, the Komets had only not participated in playoffs twice – in 2002 and 2013.
“I’m really upset because I think we have a very good team,” Lyszczarczyk said. “It’s a young team, but we could have had a big run this year and I could have showed what I can do in a pro playoffs for the first time. It’s tough, but we can’t do anything about this.”
Lyszczarczyk was born in Nowy Targ, Poland, where he lived until he was 13. He then moved to the Czech Republic for four years because the junior hockey was better. And then he joined his family in New Jersey.
His parents are in New Jersey currently, and they have a home there, so it’s not a panic situation if he can’t get out of the U.S. But Lyszczarczyk typically spends his offseasons in Poland with the rest of the family, and he’d like to do that.
He is the son of Dariusz Lyszczarczyk, a playmaking, and championship-winning, right wing in Polish hockey.
Hockey fans in Poland were abuzz about Alan’s performances with the Komets this season – videos of his goals would be shared among Polish fans who haven’t had many high-caliber hockey players in recent years – and he certainly built on the success of his final junior season when he had 35 goals and 71 points in 54 games for the Mississauga Steelheads.
He planned to fly to England on Tuesday and then to Poland on Thursday.