An improving young Bat Yam I team managed to hold off a superior Ma'alot team for the better part of the opening hockey match at the Canada Center in Metulla on Friday before succumbing in a 5-1 loss. Slava Golodnitsky tallied for Ma'alot six minutes into the opening period, and just over nine minutes later, Vlad Kosolopov scored the first of his double. Evgeny Gussin was a tower of strength in goal for the team he coaches as well, turning back 24 shots in the opening period and 48 in all for the game. The second stanza was scoreless as BY I managed to give Gussin some defensive help as he turned away another 14 shots. Eli Levin finally broke the BY I scoring drought at the 43-minute mark of the final frame with a wrist shot that eluded the Ma'alot goalie, who had to handle only six shots all evening. The gap closed to 2-1, but that was all the offense BY I could muster. Two minutes later, Slava Marchansky tallied his first of two, followed by Kosolopov's second six minutes later. Four minutes after that, Marchansky closed out the scoring. In a feisty second game, Bat Yam II held on for a tight 2-1 win over Metulla to stay at the top of the standings. Both sides came into this match with attitude; BY II as the league leader and Metulla looking to topple it from its perch while preparing mentally for the upcoming World Junior Championships. The heightened tension showed throughout the game as a slew of penalties, 10 in all, left both sides shorthanded for extended periods. At 17:53, Marek Lebedev finally broke open the scoring on a beautifullyplaced feed-in pass by Radek Issakaev, and he followed it up with an unassisted goal less than a minute later. That ended the scoring until the final period. Even though both teams had a number of excellent scoring opportunities, the goalies were able to handle the pressure of the numerous power plays. At the 54-minute point, Yoni Knitor fired a line drive past the stick side of Alexander Loginov to close the gap to 2-1. In spite of frenzied efforts on the part of Metulla, it wasn't able to crack BY II's defense. When Oren Zamir took a penalty with just over two minutes to play, the Metulla offense sputtered to a halt and time just ran out. "I just arrived yesterday [after attending a hockey clinic in Saskatchewan in preparation for this month's Under-18 Division III World Championships]," Zamir told The Jerusalem Post from the penalty box. "My team is playing much better than when I was last here. Our goalie [Eden Nemenoff] is doing a terrific job. He's gotten even better than before. I'll be here just for the week, to visit family, and then we'll be leaving for Romania." Loginov handled 16 shots, while Nemenoff faced 20. The junior national team leaves on March 9 for the March 13-19 world championships. They had been scheduled to be played at the Canada Center but were moved last month after security concerns were raised. The venue change also necessitated modifications to the national league schedule. The final regular season games are now scheduled for March 24, with the playoffs set to begin a week later. Metulla juniors top Center In Thursday night's junior league game, Michael Horowitz's hat trick led Metulla to a 5-2 victory over the Center team.