June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Local Ice Hockey Team Earns Medal in Elite Tournament

This past weekend, a group of eighth, ninth and 10th grade fully vaccinated, local Jewish ice hockey all stars decided to test their skills against some of the best teams in the country. Playing in the highest division at the Ocean State Lobsterfest, one of the premier spring ice hockey tournaments held across the country, this group proved that it can compete and play at the highest level.

The team was represented by almost every local yeshiva high school in the area. SAR, Frisch, Ramaz, TABC, Kushner, MTA and Moriah each had at least one player playing on this team. The biggest challenge at these tournaments is the scheduling restrictions that the Jewish teams have by not being able to play from Friday evening through Saturday evening. Once the tournament gave this team the green light granting their requests of no Shabbos games, plans immediately went into motion resulting in a weekend that included high level competitive hockey and a fantastic Shabbos spent together as a team.

The round robin games started on Friday afternoon, where many players arrived minutes before puck drop because of school finals that morning. This tournament featured teams from all across the country. The yeshiva team faced players from South Carolina, Georgia, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and California. After each game, players from both sides would have a few minutes to talk outside of the locker rooms and one of the players noted to our boys that this weekend he got to see two firsts: It was the first time he had ever seen the ocean in person, and it was also the first time he ever met someone Jewish.

After two high level games played on Friday, the team returned to their hotel exhausted but excited for Shabbos. With beautiful Friday night and Shabbos minyanim and meals, they got some much needed rest. Shabbos day included a walking tour of Brown University as well as a tour of the State Capitol, both a short walk from the hotel. After Shabbos, the boys headed back to the rink for the final round robin game which would determine their seeding for the playoffs that would start Sunday morning.

After all of the calculations were done, the team had an opportunity to play for the bronze medal on Sunday afternoon against a team consisting of midwest all stars. Their opposing team was fast, strong and highly skilled. However, about four minutes into the game Gabriel Hornblass (SAR, 10th) showed why he was unanimously named captain of the team by his teammates. After a season-ending injury and surgery just five months ago, Hornblass was originally told he would not even be able to participate in athletics until after the summer. With determination he worked hard to recover and miraculously was given the green light to play in the tournament. After a turnover in their own zone, Hornblass broke out and was hit in stride with a pass by newly acquired all star Jordan Serviss (Kushner, 10th). Hornblass flew into the zone by getting around two defensemen with some high-skill moves and threw a picture perfect pass to Asher Rudman (SAR, 9th) who buried the puck in the back of the net to take the lead. The crowd of over 200 fans erupted in appreciation of the beautiful play and finish. The game progressed with the opponents bombarding shots at goalie Eitan Rosenblatt (Frisch, 10th) who made save after save in what can only be described as a magical performance. Solid defense by the core defensive group of Max Levy (Frisch, ninth) and Joey Doft (Ramaz, 10th) simply did not allow any momentum from the other team. The game went back and forth with both teams going all out and playing fast paced hockey end to end, including heavy body-blowing checks. With about four minutes to go in the game David Rosen (Frisch, ninth) made a nifty move out of the zone with a lead pass to Rudman, who came streaking down the right side of the ice, quickly skated into the zone and took a shot that was saved by the opposing goalie. The rebound found its way to Bennett Burgida (Moriah, eighth) who blasted a rocket shot from the blue line that the goalie never saw, giving the team a 2-0 lead. The crowd, the bench and the coaches all joined the celebrations as it looked like the game was sealed. The opponents did not give up and applied constant pressure late in an effort to mount a comeback, but with stellar defensive play in their own zone by Henry Wolf (Moriah, eighth), Aaron Lieberman (Frisch, ninth), Gabe Nahari (SAR, 10th) and Ezra Nussbaum (MTA, 10th), as well as brick-wall goaltending by Rosenblatt, it would not happen. With less than 15 seconds remaining, Laivy Miller (Ohr Yisroel of Tenafly, 10th) playing through a wrist injury cleared the zone and the countdown to the end of the game was on. The game ended in a 2-0 shutout and a well deserved medal was earned by the Jewish boys from Bergen County.

A special shout-out goes out to team parents/coaches Zvi Rudman, Darren Wolf, Andrew Levy and especially to team manager Levi Rudman who provided a constant source of energy and motivation on the bench!

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