Skating in a war zone
Very nice piece up on NHL.com today by Bill Meltzer that talks about how the Israeli hockey federation is affected by the current tumult overseas.
There's hockey in Israel, you ask?
Yeap, although the team is currently ranked 33rd in the world and generally competes at the Division Two level at the World Championship. (They did, however, jump up to Division One this year for the first time.)
Here's an excerpt:
In light of the many inherent disadvantages and dangers, the Israeli hockey program has been a remarkable success. Israel joined the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in 1991 and was placed in Division Three, the lowest international level. Fifteen years later, Israel's senior team competed for the first time at the Division One level (one step below the elite level).Israel has even had a player drafted by an NHL club — Max Birbraer, who was selected by the New Jersey Devils, 67th overall in 2000. The 25-year-old Birbraer spent last season in the ECHL.
While Israel was vastly overmatched at the 2006 Division One World Championships and was relegated back to Division Two, the mere fact the program earned the right to compete against the likes of Team Germany is a testament to the hard-work and commitment of its players and the skill of its coaches and leadership.