For the first time in 16 years, hockey will be making an appearance at the Maccabiah Games, also known as the “Jewish Olympics,” in the northern Israeli city of Metula in July 2013.
The games will be played at Metula’s Canada Center, home to an Olympic ice rink, the largest in Israel.
The Canada Center was built through donations made to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and UIA Canada.
That’s right, the unmistakable sound of skates slicing through the ice, and pucks banging off the glass will be heard throughout the Jewish state, as hockey makes its second ever appearance at the 19th edition of this Jewish athletic competition.
Israel will compete alongside the United States, Canada and France, as it did in the two World Jewish Cups held in 2007 and 2009.
And, should the Canadian squad come up short in this year’s competition, it’s probable that it won’t be because of inferior coaching. In fact, coaching the team in 2013 will be none other than Mike Keenan, an NHL coaching legend who happened to lead the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup in 1994, as well as having taken the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers to the Cup finals.
Keenan, no stranger to Jewish life, spent five years as a coach at Toronto’s Forest Hill Collegiate and his first wife is Jewish, and their daughter was raised as a Jew. His former mother-in-law was a Holocaust survivor and Keenan visited Auschwitz during the 1970s.
Coach Keenan’s roster – comprised of 20 skaters and two goalies, as well as four reserve players – was recently completed and, according to Team Canada’s General Manager Alex Vohanski, expectations are high for the Canucks.
“We are thrilled with the team we have assembled,” said Voihanski. “To have seven NHL drafted and affiliated players, along with so many talented players from NCAA D-1 and Major Junior, we believe we have an excellent chance at bringing home the Gold next summer.”
Team Canada will feature players such as Trevor Smith of the Pittsburgh Penguins; NHL drafted players such as Michael Henrich, Adam Henrich, Cory Pecker, Zach Hyman, Daniel Altshuller and many more.
“It was very difficult for Alex, Mike Keenan and the remaining coaching staff to choose a team, based on how many talented players tried out and were involved. They did a great job and we are very excited with the group going to Israel,” said Maccabi Canada Hockey Chair Mark Goodman.
Along with Mike Keenan, Team Canada will be coached by his assistants, OHL coaches Greg Gilbert and Mike Pelino. The team will hold a training camp next July, before flying to Israel.
The Maccabia Games take place every four years in Israel, featuring more than 9,000 athletes.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life