May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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Cougar Hockey Advances to Semis

There were many changes to this year’s Yeshiva Girls Hockey League but one thing remained the same: Frisch and Ma’ayanot once again were on top of the standings in the West. This year’s league format had several changes to it. For starters, HANC entered the league in the Eastern division while Westchester moved to the Western Division. Bringing a sixth team to the West made the typical “play-each-division-opponent-twice” concept impossible with an eight game season format. The League borrowed from the boys’ hockey league the concept of a weighted schedule and interdivision play. This meant that where the team finished in the standings the previous year defined who that team would play and how many times. The playoff format was also expanded to eight teams (up from four teams).

For the teams that made the playoffs last season (Frisch, Ma’ayanot, SAR and HAFTR), this year’s schedule was not kind. The top two teams in the standings from each division would play one another twice, while also playing the top two teams in the other division once. The other four games would come by playing the remaining teams in their respective divisions one time.

This year’s Frisch team is led by senior co-captains Michal Michael and Kayla Blumenfeld, and assistant captain Leora Jarashow. The season got off to an inauspicious start when Leora (first line defense) broke her foot right before the season started and was sidelined for the whole season. Fellow senior defensemen Ariela Katz (recently named assistant captain) and Rachel Markowitz, along with Jessica Adler in the goal, round out this extremely talented senior crew. The juniors are defenseman Talia Levie and offensemen Sigal Levine and Miriam Reichman; the team welcomed a couple of junior transfers, defensemen Hannah Rosen (Ma’ayanot) and Tali Levi (Central). The sophomore lineup is defensemen Aliza Pavel, Jodi Fishbein and Laura Aducalessi, and offensemen Hannah Wiesbrot, Abigail Rochlin, Tara Davidoff, Talya Gellis, newcomer Daniella Friedman and goalie Nechama Levie. The freshmen teammates are defensmen Leah Abecassis and Yonina Reichman, and offenseman Julia Reich.

Frisch opened up its season at home against division newcomer Westchester. There was no welcoming party as Frisch mounted a 13-0 win, led by co-captains Michael and Blumenfeld who each had a “hatrick.” Also scoring in the game: Gellis (2), Rochlin, Levine, Markowitz, M. Reichman and Fishbein.

Next Frisch traveled to Riverdale to take on SAR in their “rink.” The rink is thought by many coaches throughout the league to be the toughest place to play due to its small size and quick bounces. The close quarters hamper good stickhandling players and it makes clean shots on net difficult. Thanks to no less than 10 shots hitting the goal post/crossbar and solid goaltending, Frisch could not find a way to put the puck in the net. The puck appeared to cross the goal line in the second period but the referee did not see it. The game went into overtime still tied 0-0 thanks to the outstanding goaltending of Adler in-net. With overtime played 3-on-3, the floor was a little more open. Michael, Blumenfeld and Pavel barely left the offensive zone, until Blumenfeld put in Michael’s rebound for the win.

Game 3 took Frisch into Manhattan to face Heschel. Blumenfeld scored in the 1st for a 1-0 lead. Michael and then Blumenfeld again on a partial breakaway scored early in the 2nd. Heschel found the back of the net halfway through the second frame. Michael netted her second of the game late in the 2nd but Heschel returned the favor 46 seconds later to cut the lead back to two. Frisch’s defense and Adler’s in-net performance held off Heschel for a 4-2 win.

Game 4 set up a rematch of last year’s championship when Frisch “traveled” to local rival Ma’ayanot. Frisch played an outstanding game, outshooting Ma’ayanot by close to a 40-10 margin. However, it was Ma’ayanot who struck first to break the 0-0 tie. Despite their great play, Frisch took the loss with their heads held high knowing they lost to the better team that night.

Game 5 found the Cougars back in the city to face Ramaz. Frisch controlled the play from the drop of the ball, when Michael scored their first goal of the night. Next, Levine scored her third goal of the year followed by Michael’s second of the game and seventh of the year. Blumenfeld capped the scoring with her seventh tally of the season. N. Levie managed her second shutout of the season.

Game 6 was a rematch of last year’s semi-final game with HAFTR traveling to Paramus. HAFTR came in with a much depleted team, as many of their star players graduated last year. Weisbrot began the game with her first goal of the year. Michael, Blumenfeld and Pavel also scored in the 1st to take a commanding 4-0 lead. HAFTR scored in the second period but then Blumenfeld, followed by Michael, did the same. After HAFTR scored just 50 seconds into the 3rd, Frisch buckled down and Adler shut the door the rest of the way leading to the 6-2 win.

Game 7 was to be a heated rematch against rival Ma’ayanot. Prior to the game, before the typical hockey warm-ups, the Cougars had high tempo Hebrew music playing on the loud speaker in the gym and started dancing to the ruach-filled music. Soon, many of the Ma’ayanot players ran over to dance hand in hand with the Frisch team. It was a unique moment that one would not expect to see between two teams that were about to battle for first place.

When the ball dropped, Frisch created brilliant scoring chances, but Sarah Hiller was a wall in-net. With first place on the line and only needing to avoid a regulation loss, Ma’ayanot played a little more defensively than usual. Their best scoring occurred early in the game when senior defenseman Alex Fuchs ripped a shot that clanked off the crossbar. Adler was determined not to be bested by Hiller again, and shut down any remaining shots. In the last few seconds of regulation the ball got behind Hiller and slowly rolled toward the goal. The referee lost sight of the ball and blew the whistle, allowing Hiller to cover up and send the game into overtime. With first place now out of reach, Frisch looked to secure second place in the division. Both teams left with the feeling that they are destined to meet in the championship for the third straight year.

In Game 8 Kushner, with them a 6-1 record, was looking to take second place. At 5-1-0-1, Frisch needed to beat Kushner in order to earn a home playoff game in the quarter-finals. The Cobras created several good scoring chances early on and Adler displayed stellar goaltending. Blumenfeld kicked off the scoring with a power-play goal on a feed from Pavel. Michael scored her 10th goal of the year, acquiring a 2-0 lead. Late in the second period Blumenfeld found the back of the net twice, to complete her second hat trick of the year and give her a season tally of 12 goals—the team lead. Pavel closed out the scoring late in the 3rd for her third goal of the season and a 5-0 victory. Adler accomplished her third shutout of the season—against the three other top point earners in the league—and fifth shutout overall for the Cougars.

On Tuesday, the Lady Cougars hosted the HAFTR hockey team in the first ever quarter-final playoff round in Yeshiva League Girls Hockey. HAFTR came in as the 3-seed in the East Division hoping to tackle the 2-seed Frisch from the West. Any doubts of Frisch were quickly cast aside when Hannah Weisbrot scored “5-hole” from her backhand off a rebound from Abigail Rochlin’s shot. Talya Gellis struck on a rebound of her own off a set up by Sigal Levine. Frisch took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Co-captain Kayla Blumenfeld made easy work of the HAFTR defense as she made her way to the net for the score on a feed from line-mate co-captain Michal Michael—the lone goal of the period. Michael herself scored on a rebound from a shot by Blumenfeld and then again on a rebound set up from Daniella Friedman. She stole the 5-0 victory. Jessica Adler played superb in-net, rising up to meet any challenge HAFTR threw at her. Frisch’s defense played a strong game led by assistant captain Ariela Katz, Rachel Markowitz and Aliza Pavel. Frisch now advances to the semi-finals to face SAR (the East 1-seed) in their quarter-final game. The game will be played the first week of June and the date has not yet been determined at the time of this printing.

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