Games We Play: Geller stands out as Bat Yam II takes top spot from Haifa

In a battle for places to close out first round of the Israel ice hockey league, both games played at Canada Center Friday were dominated by goaltenders.

hockey israel 88 (photo credit: )
hockey israel 88
(photo credit: )
In a battle for places to close out the first round of the Israel ice hockey league, both games played at the Canada Center in Metulla on Friday were dominated by the goaltenders, with Metulla beating Bat Yam I and Bat Yam II defeating Haifa, both by narrow 2-1 margins. The first game had the makings of a laugher, with Metulla coming off an 8-3 victory against a gradually improving Ma'alot team. BYI, meanwhile, had lost every game in the season by more than 10 goals. However, BYI player/coach and national team goaltender Evgeny Gussin, in an electrifying display of acrobatics against a 60-shot barrage, almost single-handedly subdued the entire Metulla attack. At the 29 minute mark of the second period, Shalev Nemenoff scored off a dramatic three-way passing play to put Metulla up by one. But approximately one minute later, Roman Gutkin broke in on Eden Nemenoff, and sliced a sharply angled shot past him to even the score. The final period was the most dramatic, as Metulla swept in on wave after wave of two-on-one and three-on-two breakaways. But Gussin was heroic, thwarting shot after incredible shot, 27 in that period alone. At the 57 minute mark, Michael Horowitz finally managed a shot that Gussin couldn't completely hold on to, and Yoni Knitor grabbed the rebound to fire it home for the victory. Asked by The Jerusalem Post how he felt after such a dramatic loss, Gussin replied, "To lose to a much more experienced team like Metulla by such a narrow 2-1 margin, we feel that it was a victory for us." Prior to the start of game two between Haifa and Bat Yam II, a ceremony was held in honor of the late Alexander Golubovich to which his widow, Lola, was invited. The matchup decided who would have bragging rights at the end of the calendar year, as both teams entered the contest with perfect 3-0 records. In a hard-fought first period, Haifa drew first blood when Artium Korotin managed to fire one past Alexander Loginov at the 11 minute point of the opener. Although he was severely tested with thirty shots on goal during the game, Loginov managed to shut them down. At the beginning of the second period with BYII on a power play due to a penalty, Avishai Geller put a pinpoint pass onto the stick of Edouard Tokar, who fired it past Boris Amromin to tie the score. Haifa came out with a vengeance in the final period, swarming all over Loginov, but it was BYII's Geller who salted the game away with a goal just four minutes before the game ended. With a minute to go, Haifa pulled its goalie, adding an extra attacker, in a last ditch effort to tie the score, but Loginov held them off. "I knew it was going to be a game that would come down to a very close third period, and that our goalie would have to have an outstanding final period," Geller said. "Loginov was simply outstanding, as he came up with a number of point blank shot saves, and a huge glove save." North tops Centralin women's league On Thursday evening, the North squad defeated Central 2-0 in a women's league game despite Central's inspired goaltending by Esther "The Sieve" Silver, who had 15 shots to handle. Anyone interested in taking part in the women's ice hockey or women's rollerblade hockey teams is invited to contact Dmitry Gromkov at (050) 770-9938 or (077) 885-0331.