Toronto native Danny Spodek grew up with “hockey night” in Canada. Now, thanks to his efforts, there is such a thing as hockey night in Israel, too. That night is on Thursday, when Israeli immigrants from North America meet on the ice rink at Canada Centre in Metula — way up at the northern tip of Israel — to play the sport.
Spodek, a 40-year-old dentist who lives in Zichron Yaakov, heads up the Israel Recreational Hockey Association. Right now, he is focusing on organizing and promoting the association’s sixth annual tournament, to take place after the new year on February 6-10 in Metula. “At our first tournament, we had 40 players,” Spodek recalled in a conversation with The Shmooze. “This year we are expecting 150.”
Only two or three of the eight teams that will play in the tournament will be from Israel. The event draws hockey enthusiasts (mostly aged 35 and older) from North America and Finland, including some non-Jews. “This year we are expecting players from Vancouver, Seattle, Toronto, Winnipeg and Boston,” Spodek said. “And we also have a Baptist church from Kenora, Ontario, bringing eight people.”
“Hockey [takes up] a ton of my time,” said Spodek, who has volunteered for the past eight years developing and building the association’s program. “We’ve got things figured out for the adults, so now we are focusing on roller hockey and ice hockey for kids,” he said.