On Sunday, May 4th, the first annual Esther Semmelman Memorial All-Star Games featuring 90 of the best varsity and junior varsity floor hockey players from the Metropolitan Yeshiva High School Hockey League were played at Torah Academy of Bergen County. Players from TABC, MTA, Frisch, JEC, Kushner, SAR, Magen David, Flatbush, DRS, HAFTR, North Shore, Ramaz, and Rambam
The event was organized to perpetuate the memory of Esther Semmelman, a loving wife and mother who was a staple at her son’s TABC hockey games, an incredibly supportive parent whose enthusiastic spirit and infectious laugh were known to all who watched games with her. The event pays tribute to her dedication to the sport and all its participants, which was so very much a part of her life. The proceeds from the sponsorships and gate receipts benefited i-Shine, an incredible program under the auspices of Chai Lifeline, which provides after school fun for kids and peace of mind for parents, for families dealing with grave illness or loss.
The day opened with the Junior Varsity game, a tightly contested see-saw battle of East vs. West. The East opened the scoring early in the first period. Rambam’s dynamic pairing of Harry Tanen and Avi Orlow picked up where they left off in the playoffs, with Tanen banging it home off a scramble in front of goalie Jason Silverstein of JEC. Frisch’s Stevie Brinn answered Tanen with a late goal, ending the first period tied at 1.
The first intermission featured a contest between all the players to determine who possessed the “fastest” shot. Frisch’s Stevie Brinn claimed the crown with a 94 mph blast.
The second period saw Tanen strike first, once again off a feed from Orlow. The lead, however, didn’t last as TABC’s Daniel Levy, the 2013 Playoff MVP, scored on a breakaway a fraction before the buzzer sounded to end the period.
The 2nd intermission featured an old fashioned ‘King of the Rink’ contest between the players and the goalies. The contest was ultimately won by TABC’s Daniel Levy.
The third period was an intense back-and-forth battle. Midway through the period TABC’s Ari Fuchs, the 2014 playoff MVP, stole the ball in his own zone, rushed it down the left side and laid a perfect pass on the stick of SAR’s Solomon Freilich, who fired home what would prove to be the game winning goal. TABC’s Daniel Levy capped off the day with an empty net goal; TABC’s Shua Beilin closed the door in the third period as the only one of the six goalies to not give up a goal. The West (coached by six-time championship winning head coach Norm Blumenthal) triumphed 4-2, TABC’s Daniel Levy was named game MVP, and the fans were given a very entertaining and well played exhibition while contributing to a very worthy cause.
Although all-star games are known for low intensity, the Varsity game was not the typical all- star game. With early chances for each team, the East struck first as Leo Rubin from DRS put in a goal giving his team a 1-0 lead. Soon after, the West answered with a goal from the Ramaz line.
The second period began and the East capitalized on an early opportunity and took a 2-1 lead, soon to be evened up on a goal by Shimon Cohen from TABC.
The third period was close and a tough battle with goal scoring opportunities for each team. The tie was broken by Jono Wiestscher of Frisch giving the West a 3-2 lead. The East responded with a goal of its own, tying the game with seven minutes left in regulation. Odi Haramati found the back of the net with a snap shot from half court as the West reclaimed the lead 4-3 with 5 minutes remaining. With three minutes left in regulation, the HAFTR line tied the game at 4 all, and the game was headed to overtime.
Just two minutes into overtime the game MVP from Kushner, Eli Schwartz, put in the goal giving the West and coach Mo Fuchs the 5-4 victory. The fastest shot competition was won by Odi Haramati of Frisch with a 95 mph shot. The shootout competition was won by Leo Rubin of DRS.
The game was lots of fun and a great way to memorialize a special woman and dedicated yeshiva league hockey fan, Esther Semmelman.
By Shua Naor