Monday, January 26, 2009

To the Ice

The tournament was great on the ice as well. Tuesday night we had a 2 hour scrimmage for the players who had already arrived at the hotel. We ended up with 3 goalies, so we had to rotate. Coming off the ice, I felt was playing well enough to not lose a game for my team but not good enough to steal a game.

There were 4 teams in the tournament, one representing Canada and three representing Israel. The teams had to be rejigged shortly before the tournament as some players had been called up.

I was on the Black team representing Canada. My team included Allan and his son Zvi. From the time I made the annoucement of our move at hockey he would come over to me at hockey and tell me that I was to play for Canada in this tournament. Cliff was running the team, who was also from my games in Toronto. Debbie works with my Mom. We also had JJ who was reffing the games he was not playing in. He was writting an article for Hockey USA. They wanted him to cover hockey in Israel, the tournament and how it relates to Gaza.

The Red team had Danny who is the tournament organizer. His team was the favourite going into the tournament. They also had two goalies on their team, splitting ice time.

The Teal team was considered the weakest at the beginning of the tournament. One player on their team was Lisa. She lives in Kfar Hadumim and was supposed to get a ride with us up to the rink. She ended up tremping instead. Her family is a hockey family that made Aliyah and moved to Metulah. Her older brother just got out of the Army and is on the National Team. He was going to play in the tournament until they decided it would not be fair. Her younger brother is also supposed to be a pretty good hockey player.

The White team had Debbie's husband Barry. The offer of a shwarma and 5 NIS was not enough to get someone to trade teams.

We played the first morning game against the Teal team. We won 10-3 in the biggest blow out of the tournament. The second game had the Red team easily taking care of the White team. The showdowns were set for the evening games.

In the early evening game we played the Red team. The game was close making the running time a major issue. At one point we were playing 4 on 4 and scored with 3 seconds left in our penalty. The Red team decided to treat it like a PP goal and left the penalty box. By the time we got the Ref to fix the issue the PP was almost over. In the game Danny dislocated his shoulder twice before calling it a game. With 8 minutes left we were winning 4-3. The Red team through everything they had to try to tie up the game. I shut them down until and we scored an EN to win 5-3. I was told afterwards that I was the 3rd star of the game. For me it was the highlight of the tournament.

I heard the second evening game was really rough. The White team beat the Teal team bringing their record to 1-1 and Teal dropping to 0-2. It looked like Teal was going to be the push over team of the tournament.

On Wednesday morning Teal handily beat the Red team in the first game. Red was eliminated from championship game. We went into the game versus the White team knowing we had already clinched the game in the finals. If we won and gave up less than 5 goals we would be facing Teal. Otherwise we would rematch against the White team. JJ was taking the morning off with a slight injury.

We started off the game strong scoring a goal before the game started (timekeeper forgot to start the clock). We pulled out to a 4-1 lead before the White team started chipping back. They had pulled the score to 5-4. We were killing another penalty and the faceoff was to my right. They won the faceoff, with the ungaurded winger in front of the net. I made a tough glove save to perserve the win.

The consolation game was between Red and White. There was one play where a White player dangerously took a Red player out along the boards. The son of the Red team player went balistic earning a game misconduct. For the next 10 minutes the game was rough with lots of players getting penalties for running into each other. The White team managed to take 3rd place.

We were playing Teal for the championship. The ref told me that they were going to be strict on calling goalie interference. Once again we started out strong and pulled out to a 4-1 lead. The Teal team just kept coming back. At the end of the second period a shot was taken seconds winding off the clock. The buzzard went and then the puck went into the net. The ref with the best angle thought it was not a goal but felt it was too close and consulted with the other officials. It was eventually ruled a goal.

Teal team just kept coming and they managed to come back. There was one play where I had made an initial save and puck squirted out behind the net. Lisa picked up the puck and try to stuff in a wrap around. I managed to reach out and hold the puck along the post to keep it out. The whistle went and then I was pushed. A player on their team tried to say it was a goal. I yelled at him that it was only because he had pushed me. I think I scared him a little as he backed away. With us killing another penalty late in the game they had the same play as in the morning except I was unable to come up with the glove save. The game was tied at 5 going into overtime.

Time was ticking down in overtime. I had made one save where a centering pass from behind the net hit my defenceman and I had to make a quick save. Danny was starting to panic as we were out of ice time and they had never had OT in the final game before. We managed to win with 3o seconds left on the clock. It was the first time the Canadian team won the tournament.

We went undefeated in the tournament and I proved my goaltending ability. I had a great time and hope I can play again next year. The week did make my dream to have a rink built in Central Israel that much stronger.

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