Israel’s national team won the gold medal in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Division II Group B tournament held in Mexico City, April 21-27, beating out five other national teams.
Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” was played five times during the tournament as Israel beat Mexico, New Zealand, Georgia, Iceland and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Coached by two-time Stanley Cup winner and former NHL star Bobby Holik, the national team is comprised 22 players, 16 of whom play on Israel Ice Hockey Federation teams in their native land. The others currently play for teams in North America or Europe.
The star player, forward Eliezer Sherbatov — nicknamed “Mr. Danger” by the Mexican broadcast commentators — ended the tournament as leading scorer with 15 points.
Forward Evgeni Kozhevnikov came in next with 14 points; his Bat Yam teammate, forward Sergei Frenkel, was third with 11 points. The Bat Yam squad has won Israel’s national hockey championship three times.
The team is now qualified for the World Championships Division 2A next year. This tournament is an annual competition, with the goal to make it all the way to the top division. There will also be Olympic qualification starting in fall 2019.