Well - I finally did it. Laced up some skates and equipment (that I had brought from Toronto) to play Ice Hockey in Israel. There is only one real ice arena - in Metullah - the northernmost point of Israel - right at the border with Lebanon.
My son and I drove 2 1/2-3 hours to the arena last night. We put on our equipment and joined the Israel Recreational Ice Hockey Association - a group of guys who play every second Thursday night.
I hadn't played in 27 years. I've been wanting to play - but have been pretty out of shape - something I have been working on over the past few months. Fortunately for me - they divide the shifts into three different skill levels - so I was able to play on the third line which was somewhere near my level. My son even scored a goal. Me - well maybe an assist or two.
It seemed like a great bunch of guys - who have been playing twice a month for years now. Most were Canadians - now living in Israel - though there were some Americans - a few native Israelis and a few Russians. The main thing is the commitment. The players drive from distances of at least 2 or 3 hours to get to the arena every second week!
The goalies were well equipped and were quite solid. There were a few very high calibre players - particulary on the 1st line - which made for some entertaining, fast paced hockey.
After the game, most players stopped in Kiryat Shmona - a northern Israeli town for a shawarma. Then we had a 3 hour drive back - including areas of construction that we had to pass through.
My son and I both hope to play some more. (He was the only 12 year old playing...even though he had to wake up and go to school the next day after getting home at 2:30 a.m.)
I'll have to work on my skating though..I probably looked like a pylon even on the third line...
For anyone coming to Israel - who feels the need to play while here - players can email athe association and try to book a spot.
Overall - as Canadians well know - no matter how far you drive - you realize how great it is to be on the ice. Even though many of these players have been living in Israel for years - you can't take that part of Canada away from them.