By Michael Edery

“Is ice hockey hard? I don’t know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner, and the concentration of a brain surgeon. But we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds, on a cold and slippery surface, while five other guys use clubs to try and kill us. Oh, yeah! Did I mention that this whole time we’re standing on blades one-eighth of an inch thick? Is ice hockey hard? I don’t know, you tell me! Next question.” – Brendan Shanahan (NHL Hall of Famer, Stanley Cup winner, and Olympic gold medalist)

After a long, hot summer, the Hebrew Hockey League–HHL–is proud to reintroduce its Friday program to the community. HHL is the only shomer Shabbos ice-hockey program this side of the Mississippi! Head coach and cofounder Hank Levin grew up on Long Island and played the youth hockey system all the way up to juniors, then college, and finally the pros. With a shoulder injury forcing him into premature retirement from the Detroit Red Wings farm system, Hank, or, as he is affectionately known, Coach Hank, moved into the private sector to share his love of the game with anyone who wants to learn it.

Coach’s teaching is firm and assertive, but not condescending or disparaging of a student who makes mistakes or fails on the first, second, or tenth attempt at successful execution. Coach looks at effort, not only at success.

Additionally, Coach treats each of his students like his only student, not like a number. He will make sure you don’t get away with cheating, not bending your knees fully, ‘pretending’ to need a drink because your thighs are on fire, or schmoozing with your buddy. He makes sure you execute correctly, bend your knees correctly, etc. He explains so well and so thoroughly that by the time he’s done explaining, you won’t have any questions left. You will know exactly what to do!

The other co-founder, and author of this article, is a student of his own program with an unabashed love of the game. At 48 years of age, that is all that one needs to keep on playing and staying in motion.

So when you join us, expect to see me doing the same pushups as the 12-year-olds and looking at Coach for encouragement. That’s when he will say, “Good work, Michael,” but really I know that he’s just being nice.

Coach Little John is a 6’2″ defenseman who now plays for CW Post College on Long Island. Li’l John will bark orders to his little students but still take the time to watch each one carefully and compliment or correct, as required.

Coaches Sean, Nick, Joey, and Sam, and the others on the HHL’s rotating staff are all either in college, on the way to college, or have played a high level of hockey.

The program runs on Fridays, at Long Beach Arena, from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m., and includes an open puck shoot from 1:15 to 2:00, then skills and drills from 2:00—2:45 p.m.; that’s when we break into different stations and work on various skills: power-skating, puck-handling, battle-drills, etc.

From 2:45 to 3:15 p.m., we have an organized scrimmage, which includes a referee and coaches, with the intention of trying to implement that session’s lessons into real game experience.

Typically, about two-thirds into the season, the HHL will host a Hebrew Hockey Cup series, a 5- or 7-game series in which the players battle for the Hebrew Hockey Cup–essentially a Kiddush Cup on steroids. It’s really what the Stanley Cup wishes it was.

Beginning September 15 at 1:15 p.m. at Long Beach Arena, located at Bay Boulevard in Long Beach, expect to see a bunch of guys schlepping giant hockey bags, loaded with about 50 pounds of equipment.

So how good is our instruction? Well, one of our graduates is currently in the NA3HL development program; otherwise put, the third-highest level junior hockey in the nation, and the highest in the NY area. This player was also scouted by four teams out of the Greater Metro Hockey League (GMHL) in Ontario, Canada, as well as some other U.S. teams.

Did I mention that this player is my son Avi? OK, this player is my son Avi. So kudos to the HHL upon the good work!

For further information, please call Michael Edery at 516-569-3454 or e-mail Michael@paradigmcre.com.

North Woodmere Rocks The Block

The community of North Woodmere is known as much for its achdus as its staggering growth. While no longer the untamed frontier it once was, North Woodmere has been determined to maintain a small-town feel. One event that is symbolic of this effort is their annual Rock the Block Basketball Tournament, now in its second year. The tournament brings the entire community together and compels people to meet their neighbors. “Your team must be recruited from your block,” tournament commissioner Jordan Hiller said. “Not your friends, not who is the best ball player, not who goes to your shul. But your actual neighbors.” What winds up happening is that teams are formed and include players of all ages, from all shuls and walks of life–many of whom literally meet for the first time on the court. Friendships are created. Rivalries are formed. Most importantly, it brings everyone together for a few nights in a relaxed atmosphere. The tournament was held this year in North Woodmere Park between September 5 and September 11, with 12 teams and over 80 players participating. Last year’s runner-up, Mulberry, took the crown by edging upstart Van Dam.

 

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