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The World Jewish Hockey Championship began Sunday afternoon at the Canada Center in Metulla, with nine teams from five countries gunning for glory on the ice.
Josh Tordjman, the only player at the event who has played in the National Hockey League after tending net for the Phoenix Coyotes for two games in 2008, was excited to be in the country.
"This is an amazing experience, already. It's been unbelievable so far. I've really enjoyed being together as Canadian-born Jews, here in Israel, learning about the country and traveling around the country, he said.
"This is one of the highlights of my career."
Teams representing Canada, France, USA, Israel and Russia, Israel will compete in the tournament, which lasts until July 15.
Steve Thomas, the Canada White junior coach and former NHL star, was delighted to be in the country.
"I've been fortunate that hockey has taken me many places and I never expected Israel to be one of those places," said Thomas, who played for six NHL teams including the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils in a 22-year pro career.
"When I was asked to be one of the coaches, I took about five minutes, maybe less, to decide. How often do you have a chance for an opportunity like this - to see a country you wouldn't otherwise see and get to combine with a game that has been my life?"
Sergei Matin, Israel Ice Hockey Federation President, added: We're trying to bring more people in this country to the sport of hockey. We see the game growing here. We still have a long way to go."
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