Monday, May 01, 2006

Clash of the Titans

This recent headline caught my eye: Ice Hockey: Japan powers past Israel in Group A. Not exactly the Olympics or the NHL Playoffs, but it is Division 1 of the International Ice Hockey Federation, which means that the winners of this tournament will move up (however briefly) to play against traditional powerhouses like Canada, Sweden and Russia at World Championships next year. I had no idea that they played hockey in Israel, prompting me to dig a bit deeper into this story. The Israel Ice Hockey Federation was established in 1989 by emigres from the Soviet Union and Canada (my heart is beginning to swell...). It joined the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1991. There are three skating rinks in Israel--one Olympic facility and two smaller rinks, one of them at the Canada Center in Metula (my heart is bursting with pride...). The current head coach of Team Israel is none other than Jean Perron, who coached Team canada in the 1984 Olympics and led the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship in 1986. It's fair to say that, given the short amount of time Israel has had a hockey program, it's quite remarkable that they are now playing competitively in Division 1. I started this post thinking to make some kind of joke (as the title might suggest), but it lead me to an unexpected place. Good luck to Israel and Japan at this year's tournament!

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