Alexander Golubovich, the star player-coach of the Bat yam
II amateur ice hockey, died from a heart attack he suffered in the dressing room after playing the first two periods on Friday.
Golubovich, who had played for top Latvian teams before moving to Israel
, left the ice at the end of the second frame.
It soon became apparent that the 44-year-old was having difficulty breathing, and the paramedic on duty at the Canada Center in Metulla
was called, who immediately called for an ambulance.
Within minutes, the MDA emergency team was on the scene arrived and removed him by ambulance.
Just minutes prior to the end of the second game of the night between Metulla and Haifa, Sergei Matin, the president of the Israel Ice Hockey Federation, told The Jerusalem Post
that he had just been informed a few moments ago that Golubovich had died en route to the hospital.
Matin said: "He was in good health, and had passed a physical before the start of the season. At this time, we're still unsure of the medical reason for his demise."
Golubovich was the driving force in guiding his team to the last two league championships, when it was connected to Lod, and in 1999.
He was player/coach of the team for the past six years.
He played the game with reckless abandon, giving his all every time he took to the ice, and his formidable skills made him one of the most respected and feared players in the country.
According to Matin he was the "best player in the country.".
From 1980 to 1998, he played with a number of teams in the Former Soviet Union
, most notably Dynamo, of Riga, Latvia, in the Super League, the Russian
equivalent of the NHL, and from 1991-98 played for the Latvian team, Niks Brihs, helping them win national championships in 1995-6, and again in 1998.
Golubovich made aliya in 1998, with his family, and leaves behind his wife, Lola and two teenage children, a son, 17 and daughter, aged 13.