FILED UNDER SOMETHINGISRAELI >> Sport
Despite recent setbacks with its national ice hockey team including a 12-0 lose to Great Britain last week, Israel is still optimistic it has what it takes to be a leading country in ice hockey.
In 1989, the Ice Hockey Federation of Israel was formed with players from the former Soviet Union and Canada, the Federation has grown steadily and gaining.
As well as a mens team, there is also a womens team and an under 18 team.
Since 2003, the Federation has been chaired by Canadian businessman Alan Maislin who wants the game to be better known in Israel. "My ambition is to make hockey one of the most popular sports in Israel," he said. "Sports fans in Israel know soccer and basketball, but very few people know that there actually is hockey being played in the country. We want to make hockey the coolest game in town."
Over the past 17 years, the sport has gained momentum, where last year the team were promoted to Division 1 of the International Ice Hockey Federation. But now, after its recent loss to Great Britain, the team has been relegated back to Division 2.
"We were playing catch-up hockey every game against professional teams that are used to playing a 60-70 game schedule on a regular basis," head coach Head coach Jean Perron told The Jerusalem Post. "While our guys, almost all of them amateurs, may get to play about 20 games a season. Our physical conditioning just isn't at the same level as theirs. So now, when we played a tournament at this very high level for us, where we played five games in a week, it was just too much."
"There's no shame in losing at this level," Maislin added. "The fact that we're here at this level at all says a lot about the development of hockey in Israel and how far we've progressed in such a short time."
For more information: www.israel-hockey.com