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Western Conference Varsity Hockey Season Preview

Despite the joy of witnessing the most powerful team win, Cinderella stories are one of the reasons why we all love sports. This was the case for the western conference of Yeshiva League hockey two seasons ago, when Ramaz defied all the odds and disproved all the doubters, eventually leading them to the championship game. One of the secrets of Ramaz’s success and the kryptonite to opposing offenses has returned this year for his senior season, as goalie EJ Singer hopes to guide Ramaz to another championship appearance. Unlike Singer, the majority of the western conference has never played in a varsity hockey game, which will leave opponents, coaches and fans watching to see how this season will turn out.

SAR: As SAR’s title hopes evaporated when the pandemic shut down Yeshiva League sports, the now varsity team will try to take what was stolen from them almost two years ago. A team made up of mostly juniors led by Eytan Krausz, with Gabriel Hornblass on the Instagram reserve, other forwards need to step up. With Sam Fromen leading the only five seniors on the team, this young team will have to mature fast to win the title.

After a 9-0 blowout of Rambam in the league opener, SAR started off the season with perfection. The juniors on this team have never lost a game in high school, and don’t plan to anytime soon. Ari Fenster, Judah Hain and Stephen Nayowitz lead the Yeshiva League’s youngest defensive core in the league. Can this young team take what is there or will they fall short to the likes of more experienced Yeshiva League teams?

Kushner: The Kushner Cobras’ season kicked off early November against an MTA team that knocked them out of playoff contention almost two years ago. Despite the heartbreak of last season, this new-look Cobras team is ready to bounce back to their winning ways. Top D-pair Jordan Serviss and Zeke Rabinowitz are prepared to lock down their opponents’ top scorers with star goaltender Nate Savitz holding it down between the pipes. Forwards Isaac Mendelson and Ben Matthew are eager to score big goals in big games. Critics are used to hearing these household names, but the question remains: Will the Cobras’ lack of depth prove costly once again in those long gritty games? With the return of offencemen Freddy Dresdner and Adir Kaynan, and the addition of defencemen Liam Djebali and Eli Danziger, this team has the ability to keep firing on all cylinders down the stretch. In the words of head coach Nat Druce, “We have the talent, we have the desire, and we have an improved roster. Time to put it all together.”

MTA: After a one year hiatus, the MTA varsity hockey team is back and better than ever. With the off-season acquisition of Gabriel Rudman, MTA is looking to create a high powered offense. Captains Ezra Landa and Ori Engel look to lead this team to a deep playoff run. With star goalie Shmuel Rosenthal between the pipes, opponents will have great difficulty in scoring. With coach Rabbi Stone and Yoni Levine at the helm, a promising MTA team looks to win its first championship since 2011.

JEC: With a strong offensive front from seniors Moshe Klavan and Ben Stern, a defense of Ben Freiner and Jacob Kolb, and Zevi Klein as their goalie, the JEC Thunder are looking for a powerful season under leadership of Justin Lipschick. JEC starts their season on Long Island against North Shore on Monday.

Ohr Yisroel: In its inaugural season, Ohr Yisroel is excited to be joining the league. Playing with mostly seniors and juniors, with two seniors captains, Tani Rosenfeld and alternate captain Elan Besterman, who were both leading scorers of their team in 10th grade before Covid hit, the team is excited to make some noise in its first-ever season. They will be coached by Yaniv Besterman who has over 20 years experience including two championships with Yavneh.

Frisch: The last time Frisch hockey took the court, they were on the losing end of a playoff upset against eventual championship contender, the Ramaz Rams. Two years later, despite having an entirely different roster filled with new faces who are all rookies to varsity hockey, there is great potential getting ready to be unleashed. Frisch fields a very similar roster to their JV season two years ago, but this time they have the aspirations of a championship. The offense will likely be present for the Cougars, who scored a jaw dropping 14 goals against YDE in their JV playoff game two seasons ago, but the x factor may be junior goalie Andrew Srulowitz who's being given the task to deny any shot that comes his way. Frisch is up for any challenge they face and aspires to be ranking number one on the Yeshiva League Pass power rankings when the season comes to a close.

Ramaz: The Ramaz Rams are excited to get back on the court and have high aspirations for the 2021/22 season. They are looking to get off to a strong start and put the league on notice. The Rams have some unfinished business after their co-championship season was cut short. They feature a veteran squad and are led by captains Alex Freilich and goalie sensation EJ Singer.

TABC: Entering the Fall 2021-2022 varsity hockey season, the TABC Storm, led by coaches Mo Fuchs and Yak Apfelbaum, are a strong candidate to take home the 2021-2022 MYHSAL varsity hockey championship. Led by seniors AJ Seplowitz, Joey Zelig and Tzvi Naor, the Storm have a very skilled and talented roster down to the end of the bench. Also, the Storm has one of the deepest rosters in the league led by defensive prowess of Zachary Gibber and Natan Solomon, and gritty offensemen Ezra Becker and Yehuda Wiener. After a successful 2020 when the Storm went 8-1-1 and advanced to the championship (canceled due to the pandemic) after a commanding 4-1 win vs. DRS at the Greenhouse. This year, the Storm will be on a mission to take on the league and return to Lawrence Middle in March.

The western conference hoists eight powerhouse rosters all with one common goal: to win the championship. With this common mindset, it’s sure to be an entertaining season, so make sure to stay tuned for weekly updates for in-depth analysis from all around the yeshiva league.

Thank you to this week’s contributors: Mordy Nettleton, Dovi Friedman, Freddy Dresdner and all those who wish to remain anonymous!

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