Valley Forge, PA has some significant history. It is best known as where the Continental Army led by George Washington set up camp during the late stages of the Revolutionary War. It is also the home to one of the most competitive hockey tournaments on the East Coast and attracts some of the most prestigious hockey organizations to participate. This past weekend, three shomer Shabbos teams ranging from kids in third grade all the way to high school participated in the tournament representing the North Jersey Avalanche, a local hockey organization that has allowed for their teams to compete in the New Jersey Hockey League while working their schedules around Shabbat and Yom Tov. The teams were represented by players from all of the local yeshiva elementary schools and high schools.
The youngest team made up of kids born in 2009 and 2010 (Squirts) came in not knowing what to expect. After their early success in local league play they came into the tournament with confidence but hesitance, not knowing what type of competition they would be facing. During round robin play the team came out with a 3-1 record, winning their final game by enough of a margin to clinch a spot in the championship game. Although they battled fearlessly, the boys just could not match up with the strong physical team from Western Connecticut. Despite the fact that they lost the championship game, it was quite an accomplishment for this young team to advance as far as they did.
The Peewees made up of birth years 2007 and 2008 came in with a bit more tournament experience. Their explosive offense led by Alex Pomerantz (Moriah, sixth), David Kahn (Moriah, sixth), Eitan Adler (Yavneh, sixth),and Noah Sosland (Moriah, sixth) combined with their stellar blue liner Elijah Zackai (Moriah, seventh) and their brick wall in net Jared Helwani (Moriah, sixth) made them a force to be reckoned with. The boys came out flying from the start and never looked back. They handily beat their opponents during the round robin play and would end up playing the local team from Valley Forge in the finals. Although the boys came up short in the finals, their talent and abilities on the ice earned them a reputation of being one of the most feared teams to face in their age group.
The Bantams (birth years 2005 and 2006) came in ranked as one of the top teams in their division in the country, and rightfully so. Led by veteran superstars Gabriel Hornblass (SAR, ninth), Aiden Sholomon (Frisch, ninth), Alex Jacobs (Frisch, ninth), and goaltender Eitan Rosenblatt (Frisch, ninth) the team was virtually unstoppable all tournament long. Rookie sensation Asher Rudman (Moriah, eighth) set the tone early with a goal two minutes into the first game, and the boys never looked back from there. They won their first three games showcasing their powerhouse offense along with their stifling defense. They cruised to the finals where they would face an extremely talented high school team from East Islip, NY. Although the boys were clearly outsized, their heart and soul quickly took over. After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, Hornblass and Sholomon literally took over the game. Perhaps the most potent Jewish line ever assembled, together with Rudman, the boys simply refused to lose. Hornblass scored to cut the lead to one on a beautiful feed from David Rosen (Moriah, eighth), and Sholomon went on to score three goals, all assisted by Hornblass, sending the Avalanche cheering section into a frenzy. Stellar defense late by Bennett Burgida (Moriah, seventh), Alex Jacobs (Frisch, ninth) and a ferocious sliding play to stop an odd man rush late by Max Levy (Moriah, eigthth) together with a heavy forecheck from Aaron Lieberman (Yavneh, eighth) and Ezra Nussbaum (MTA, ninth) helped seal the deal and the championship. The noise was deafening and cheers from both sets of fans overtook the arena in appreciation of such a performance by both teams. After the handshake line the boys went on to claim their championship trophy and in familiar fashion saluted their fans.
A special shout out goes out to Tiran Nahari for catering the Shabbos food, and a yasher koach to all of the parents and grandparents who were able to be a part of such a special Shabbos.