Haifa whitewashes Bat Yam I; Metulla tops Ma'alot

Prior to the opening whistle at the start of this week's league games at the Canada Center in Metulla a memorial ceremony was held in honor of the late Alexander Golubovich, the Bat Yam II player/coach extraordinaire, who died after suffering a heart attack, during the last league games held on December 2. Although few words were spoken, all attending stood at attention out of respect, to commemorate a man who had devoted much of his adult life to hockey. In the first game Haifa demonstrated that they are a force to be reckoned with this year, as they extended their unbeaten streak to three games into the new season with a 12-0 blanking of the young and inexperienced Bat Yam I team. Evgeny Gussin, goalie and player/coach of the young Bat Yam I team, who are comprised mainly of converts from roller blade hockey, was faced with a barrage of shots from every angle throughout the game, without any let up, and when the final whistle had gone, he had been tested some 49 times. Nikolay Kolomiza opened the scoring on the five and a half minute mark of the first period, and, before the frame had ended, Dmitry Rosenman had scored the first of his two at the 17 minute point, followed in quick succession by Vladimir Shipinsky's first goal of two a minute later, and Rosenman's second, just before the whistle to end the frame. Haifa fired some 22 shots in that period alone, with Amromin in the opposing net, staving off a single attack. Eddy Ravniaga, with his first of two, opened the 2nd period scoring just two minutes into the frame. A few minutes later, Rosenman took a tripping penalty, and Dmitry Kovalov took advantage of B.Y.I to score a very effective shorthanded goal at the 28 minute point. When B.Y.I finally had a breakaway attempt, Amromin managed to make a fine save on the effort, and throughout the game, was only tested nine times. The three goals that were scored in the last period came about five minutes apart, with the first one by Leonid Trupanov at the 45 minute point, followed by Korotin's completion of his hat trick and Ravniaga's second, which was the prettiest goal of the night, on a fine three way assisted passing play between Korotin and Alexander Stolyar. Dima Gromkov, the B.Y.I team spokesman and backup goalie commented, "This was an excellent workout for Gussin as the national team goaltender." At the start of the second matchup, in which Metulla skated away with an 8-3 victory, it looked as though Ma'alot were determined not to be pushovers, and for much of the game, they weren't. Slava Golodnitsky put Ma'alot ahead after just a minute and a half with an excellent breakaway. However, in a battle of end to end rushes, Metulla had a better finish to their game, which proved to be the difference. Michael Horowitz, with the first of his hat trick for the evening, tied the game at the eight minute mark, while Shalev Nemenoff put Metulla ahead at the 15 minute point. And just over three minutes later, Horowitz connected for his second. Halfway into the second stanza, Yoni Knitor scored his first of two after a swift three on one breakaway, and just four minutes later, while playing short handed, after a tripping penalty, Knitor notched his second to end the scoring for the frame. The Metulla team had the better part of the action, with harder and more direct shots on the Ma'alot goaler, Vachtang Dindzdada, who faced a total of thirty one shots, while Eden Nemenoff had only eighteen to handle. Winning coach Boris Mindel said, "We do have some problems with our defense, and we're working on that, and we're not taking advantage of our shots on net, but this time the game ended as we hoped it would." In the Junior League action, Metulla and Ma'alot tied 2-2 and Bat Yam and the Central team tied 1-1 in the games played on December 9. The December 15 game saw Nahariya beat the Central team by a 2-1 margin. The ladies hockey team will have their next official practice on December 29 at the Canada Center. In other news, Max Birbraer, the only Israeli to have been taken in the NHL draft back in 2000, has been playing AA hockey in Canada this season. He recently suffered a severe knee injury, which will require surgery, and it appears that the season is over for him.