At the Olympic hockey games, a bounty of Jewish players
Looking over the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey rosters, one certainly sees some familiar hockey names — Ferraro, McTavish, Staal, Winnik and Desharnais, for example — but what must be a hockey first is that Team Canada will ice three players with ties to the Jewish faith: Josh Ho-Sang, Jason Demers and Devon Levi.
Levi’s affiliation with Montreal’s Jewish Community and his formative hockey years are well documented in David Lisbona’s December 2020 article in “The Sports Rabbi.”
In 2019-20 the Montreal native moved to the Ottawa Valley, to tend goal for the Tier II Junior A Carleton Place Canadians for whom he posted an impressive 34-2 record and a 1.47 goals against average and was named the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s (CJHL) Player of the Year and Top Rookie.
Levi caught the eye of many NHL scouts. He was drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2020, and his rights were traded to the Buffalo Sabres. He is currently tending goal for the NCAA Northeastern Huskies.
Right winger Josh Ho-Sang was a first round pick of the New York Islanders in 2014. He was assigned to AHL Bridgeport in 2017 and had several NHL call-ups as well as a stint playing in the Swedish Elite League.
In 2021 Ho-Sang was signed to an American Hockey League contract by the Toronto Marlies. So far, Ho-Sang has impressed, scoring 11 goals and counting 9 assists in 27 games.
In 2007-08, his final season of Major Junior hockey, Jason Demers led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in scoring by a defenseman with 64 points in 67 games. He was drafted by San Jose in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and began his professional career the following year with their American Hockey League affiliate in Worcester. He had 33 points in 78 games that season and also appeared in 12 NHL playoff games with the Sharks. His 699-game NHL career also included stops in Dallas, Florida and Arizona.
“[Being Jewish] is on my father’s side of the family tree,” Demers told an interviewer in 2010. “It all came as a little bit of a surprise, but we welcomed it.” In an interview with NHL.com, he confirmed that he celebrates some Jewish holidays with his family.
In addition to the Canadian players, there may be a few other Jewish pucksters playing in the Olympics this year. David Warsofsky, who has played in the NHL for Boston, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Colorado will be on Team USA’s roster.
China’s men’s ice hockey team at the games will be largely made up of players from the Kunlun Red Star team, but Ethan Werek, a 2009 New York Rangers second-round pick, has also made the squad.
Irv Osterer is a member of the Registered Society of Graphic Designers, the Society of International Hockey Research, the American Philatelic Society and is a past contributing editor to Arts and Activities Magazine. Before the COVID Pandemic, he was a game right winger in the Barrhaven Men’s Senior Hockey League.