After absorbing a beating at the hands of Romania on Friday, the national junior ice hockey team bounced back to tie New Zealand 4-4 on Sunday evening in its final game to capture the silver medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Division III World Championships in Miercurea Ciuc, Romania.
As a result both Israel and Romania, which captured the gold medal by pummeling Israel 13-2, will advance to Division II at next year's World Championships.
"What a game!" enthused Alan Maislin, chairman of the Israel Ice Hockey Federation, in Romania, just moments after the tie with New Zealand. "It was very, very exciting. The team displayed a great deal of mental toughness, particularly in the third period, when all the pressure was on them.
"After that loss to Romania - to a much better team... consisting of 17- and 18-year-olds - our team did very well considering the circumstances. Six of our players are 14 years old..."
On Sunday, Shon Norman scored Israel's first goal but the blue-and-white trailed 2-1 at the end of the opening period. Daniel Ehrlich, the tournament's MVP, evened the score with a short-handed effort during the second. Oren Zamir tallied on a power play in the third and Ehrlich then staked Israel to a 4-3 lead.
New Zealand tied the game in the closing minutes with the third of its goals scored with a man advantage.
Eden Nemenoff, between the pipes for Israel, made 28 saves.
"Our goal for this tournament was to be promoted to Division II, and we accomplished our main goal. Six of our players are graduating this year, so it's a great sendoff for them," Maislin said.
Romania and South Africa faced off after press time in their final game but the result will not affect the final standings, with South Africa taking the bronze medal. A win by South Africa would leave it tied with Israel on points, but Israel's 8-5 victory over South Africa would be the tie-breaker.