The NHL may be on a lockout for the 2012-2013 year, but the HHL will be in full swing beginning Friday, September 7, following a banner 2011-2012 year.
Founded in 2010 by Head Coach Hank Levin and Michael Edery, the HHL has grown from a seven-player clinic to a roster of 40 players over a short period of time. Under the direct instruction of former professional ice hockey player and current head coach Hank Levin, the HHL boasts the only league in the greater New York area where players of all skill levels are invited to play, so long as they possess basic skating and playing skills, as well as a basic knowledge of the game.
“My vision has always been to create a league that works around the yeshiva schedule, that provides players with the top flight instruction and structure of all of the other ice hockey leagues,” says Edery, 45, who plays alongside his two boys, Avi and Yoni, ages 14, and 9, respectively.
‘Coach Hank,’ as he is affectionately called by all, played through Juniors, college, and professionally in Europe, as well for the Detroit Red Wing farm system, until an injury forced him into premature retirement from professional hockey.
Though Jewish professional hockey players are quite an anomaly, the HHL is fortunate to benefit from Coach Hank and from his sensitivities to timing and schedules. Coach Hank’s coaching style is a combination of that of a drill sergeant and a big brother. While he takes no nonsense from his players on the ice, there is always an allowance for learning errors and patient instruction.
“I have to make sure the players improve their abilities and don’t just stagnate,” says Hank, “and the only way to do that is by hard work, falling down, getting back up, and lots of patience.”
“Michael, don’t get frustrated,” he once said, “get more patient.” Sure, because everyone can bring the puck behind them and catch it in front of them, while skating fast.
Possessing the uncanny ability to almost immediately fully evaluate a player’s ability, Coach Hank will place the players on lines commensurate with their skills, making sure that they have fun playing hockey while being challenged by an opponent of equal experience. No one gets frustrated by feeling either ‘left out’ or ‘underplayed’.
All of Coach’s assistant coaches are either past or current college players; some are in discussion with various NHL teams for professional contracts.
Following a brutal season of drills, drills, and more drills (everyone hates drills!) they had their first seven-game series, where the prize claimed was the Hebrew Hockey Cup; essentially a Kiddush cup on steroids, and the bragging rights that follow the win.
Coach appointed Yehuda Moseson and Michael Edery as the two captains for the series, following which they had first, second, and third line draft picks; just to keep things honest. Team coaches were Mordechai Moseson for Team Moseson and Coach John Osei-Tutu for Team Edery. Coach Mordechai trained in Long Beach with the Long Beach Apple Core, as well as having skated with some OHL teams whilst in Ontario. Of late, he also played for Hofstra University’s hockey team. Coach Osei (pronounced Ozzy) was a nationally ranked junior player, having played all over the country, until law school prevailed. The referee was Little John (6’ 2”), a former defenseman for the University of Arizona’s hockey team. The scores were reflected on the scoreboard, and stats were kept. Following a nail-biting series that went a full seven games, Team Edery was declared the winner and was the first team to hoist the Hebrew Hockey Cup.
Almost as exciting as the game was watching the two distinct coaching styles of Coaches Mordechai and Osei. While Coach Mordechai possesses that cool, calm, and collected demeanor, always standing behind the bench and providing firm instruction, Coach Osei’s animated style riled up his players to find strength they didn’t know they had. Standing on the bench, sitting on the boards, and standing on the boards, his encouragement was heard all over the arena.
Of course, they are all friends, and so all competiveness was left on the ice.
This season will begin on Friday, September 7, and will go throughout the year, until the summer of 2013. For now, and until the clock will change, sessions will be held from 2:30-4:00 p.m. at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach.
The first several weeks will be drills with 20-30 minute scrimmages, just to get back into the swing of things, following which team captains will be appointed, and the draft will take place, for the commencement of the seven-game series.
As in the past, the fee will be $20 for the skate, and it’s pay-as-you-play; so there are no contracts, application fees, or initiations fees required. Full equipment is a must. No exceptions! For any information or questions, please call Michael Edery 516-569-3454 or e-mail Michael@paradigmcre.com.