Team Israel visits Rams ahead of world championships

(Leslie Walker / Ryersonian Staff)

(Leslie Walker / Ryersonian Staff)

By William Brown

After getting cut twice from Ryerson’s hockey team, Daniel Mazour wanted to prove the Rams wrong.

“Were there thoughts of vengeance? Yeah, for sure. It would have been nice to score a few nice goals, but it didn’t really happen,” he said.

The 22-year-old centre is part of an Israeli national men’s hockey team that took on Ryerson last week in an exhibition matchup.

Last year, a Team Israel player, who was simultaneously a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), helped organize a hockey game between the school and the Israeli national team. This year, Mazour wanted to do the same with Ryerson.

“I originally came to (Rams head coach) Graham Wise in the first semester. I just said ‘Hey, do you want to have a game?’ The plans didn’t really go any further than that, until they were kicked out in early March,” he said.

Mazour then contacted Ryerson’s associate director of athletics, Stephanie White. “It started moving really quickly. We put the game together in just over three weeks,” he said.

The Israeli team fell 13-6 to the Rams, who coasted to victory despite playing with a depleted lineup.

“We didn’t want anybody to get hurt, especially before leaving for the tournament,” Mazour said after the game. “Nobody was really going at it with big hits or that type of game. Our coach didn’t want anything too rough.”

Mazour is currently enrolled in the Ted Rogers School of Management. He manages to play for Israel while living in Toronto because the Israeli team does not practise throughout the year.

Mazour says hockey has been his passion since the age of five, when his family migrated from Israel. “When I moved to Canada, (my parents) put me on figure skates, and I started skating right away,” he said. “From there, I signed up for house league, then quickly to Triple-A and I’ve been playing ever since then.”

Now, after getting cut by the Rams twice, Mazour is looking to skate Israel into the top tier of hockey teams in the world. The Israeli team is preparing for the Division II International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships in Serbia.

The event takes place from April 9 to 15, and the winner will earn a promotion to Division I next year.

The Israeli team isn’t the most talented group — they rank 39th internationally — but they’re looking for a podium finish at the world championships, which begin next week.

“It’s going to be very close,” said Mazour, who added that only Estonia is considered a heavy favourite to win a medal. “I’m looking forward to medalling, for sure.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 2, 2014.

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