For the first time since their only previous World Junior participation, Israel has managed to win at the Under-20 level thanks to a huge 17-0 win over South Africa.
Israel hasn’t been very active at the Under-20 level in the past, playing in the low-level Division D tournament back in 1997. This year, the country made the trek back to the World Juniors with a Division III appearance, the lowest international tournament for the age group. Israel started the tournament off with a close 6-5 loss to the hosts from Mexico, who are expected to win the whole event. The team then fell 6-2 to New Zealand in a fairly lopsided event before once again dropping a 6-5 decision to Iceland on Monday.
Leading the way in the game for Israel was captain Ilya Spektor, scoring five goals and seven points through 60 minutes of play. Previously a member of the Jersey Shore Wildcats from the NA3EHL in the United States, Spektor scored three goals in three games for the Israeli’s men’s team at the most recent Olympic Qualifiers.
Israel first U20 game in 1997 took place against Estonia, who easily had their way with the team in blue and white 12-3. Israel got their first win in their third game against South Africa, beating them 6-2 to make history for the small hockey nation. The team then finished off the tournament with a 7–3 victory, their biggest victory before their game against South Africa on Tuesday.
Israel’s men’s team currently sits 33rd in the men’s world rankings, one position down from their best ever position a year prior. The country barely stayed alive in the Division IIB World Championships (second lowest group), beating out, you guessed it, South Africa, by a single point.
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