TEL AVIV - As it turns out, our hot and humid Middle Eastern nation has an ice-hockey team, and not a bad one at that.
At the beginning of the week, Israel won the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation Division II Group B world championships, an achievement that pushed it into Division I, one tier below the top division.
Under the direction of Canadian coach Jean Perron, Israel was able to win four of its five games and tie one.
More impressively, the team won without Israel’s most renowned hockey star, Max Birbraer, who was drafted by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils three years ago.
However, Israel did enjoy the services of the three Eisenman brothers, Alon, Erez and Oren.
Goalie Evgeny Gussin draws praise
Oren led the tournament with 14 points (10 goals and four assists,) while Alon finished eighth among tournament scorers with three goals and three assists in only three games.
The national team also received an impressive contribution from Sergei Frenkel, who scored once but assisted on nine goals. Meanwhile, goalie Evgeny Gussin drew wall-to-wall praise after allowing only 11 goals in five games.
After opening the tournament with a tie, Israel proceeded to rout host Serbia 5:1, and later beat Belgium 7:4. The national team then beat Spain in a dramatic fashion 1:0, after Oren Eisenman scored with three minutes to go.
The grande finale came in the form of a 4:2 victory over Iceland.