The Flatbush Ice Hockey Team took to the ice along with teams from other area yeshivot in the inaugural Rapid Fire Ice Hockey Tournament (the event was hosted by The Frisch School), posting a 2-0-2 record in the round-robin format and tying for the top spot in the Benefit event on Sunday night (3/26) at Mackay Arena in Englewood, NJ.
The Rapid Fire Tournament Benefit marked the first time multiple metropolitan area yeshiva/day school teams gathered in one place for on-ice hockey competition. The event, organized by Frisch Ice Hockey coordinator and coach Ralph Abecassis, brought together players from Flatbush, JEC, SAR, Kushner, TABC and Frisch to spend an evening in competition and camaraderie while also raising funds (through entry fees and a memorabilia raffle) for two area organizations: The Friendship Circle http://www.fcnj.com/ and Project Ezrah – https://www.ezrah.org/. The Friendship Circle promotes a greater awareness and understanding of the unique needs and the unique gifts of people with special needs, and encourages respect and empathy for those facing challenges. Frisch Ice Hockey runs two skating events with The Friendship Circle every year, one in October and one in March. The players help the special needs children skate. “Its great to see because they cannot get staff to run something like a skating event for these kids,” Said Coach Abecassis. “We had almost 100 people attend the October program.” Project Ezrah was formed in 2001 in response to the need of community members who were suffering from the international financial downturn by finding employment opportunities for candidates seeking entry level to senior leadership positions. Ezrah helps clients live financially responsible and self-sufficient lives by focusing on financial matters and budgeting issues.
The format for the Tournament would be round-robin play with each of the 5 teams taking the ice against each other in one 15-minute running time game. Flatbush opened its part of the event with a matchup with the ice hockey team from JEC. It looked like it might be a long night for the Falcons, as the Thunder scored first as the players were just getting acclimated to the New Jersey ice. But from that point on, Coach Elliot Zakay settled his players down, and 30 seconds later the game was tied with a scoring strike off the stick of Sophomore Wing Sol Laniado.
The Falcons were then off and running! Sol’s older brother and team captain, Sam, scored two of the next three Falcon goals to give Flatbush a 4-1 lead. Senior Joey Habert capped off the scoring for Flatbush, but the Falcon defense saved the best play for last. With the clock winding down, JEC found themselves on the attack, with only veteran netminder Aaron Kubie in position to make a play. The Thunder forward fired a blistering shot, Kubie shot his arm out in a fleeting attempt to stop the shot and all eyes were on the back of the net. The scorekeeper was so sure the puck was there that he put a “2” on the board for JEC. That was until Kubie slowly rose up, stuck out his hand and gently let the puck fall out of his glove. Kubie was mobbed as the Falcons bench rose up in cheers, and the scoreboard reverted back to 5-1, Flatbush, where it would stand as time expired. “I was blown away by that save,” exclaimed Freshman Falcon Marty Elmekies, voicing a sentiment shared by many who witnessed Kubie’s exploits.
Flatbush’s second game was against a joint SAR-Kushner squad (filled out by additional Frisch players), and it was a fairly even tilt. Flatbush had some opportunities, but could not capitalize, while at the same time, the Falcon defense continued its sharp play. In the end, the game was evenly played, and the scoreboard said as much when the clock and the scoreboard both read the same at the end – “0’s” across the board!
Game 3 pitted the two top teams to that point in what looked to be the deciding contest of the night, Flatbush v The Paramus Cougars Hockey Club. Both teams came into the game with one win and one tie, and it looked likely that whichever team came out on top would have a distinct leg up on the top spot of the Tournament. The last time these two teams met was in the Flatbush Freeze Out, the Yeshiva Ice Hockey Tournament hosted last Spring by Flatbush, and the Cougars dominated play in that game. This night, the Cougars again took control of the tempo from the start, with the majority of the first half of play contested in the Falcon defensive zone. As a result, the pressure was on Joey Habert and Eddie Sorscher to try and keep the area in front of Kubie as clear as possible. More significantly, Kubie needed to play big. But Kubie did not play big; he played huge! Every time it looked like the Cougars were going to finally put one in, Kubie came up with the save.
By midway through, Flatbush began to start making some headway offensively, with Aaron Harari, Joey Habert and Sam Laniado getting good looks on the Cougar net. But, neither was able to solve the Paramus club’s defense. Then, with under two minutes to play, it looked like the Flatbush defense would finally yield a goal as the Cougars got behind the defense on a transition breakaway. Again, though, Kubie came up large, stonewalling the Cougar attack. Flatbush would get one last rush on goal, but it, too, was thwarted. The game ended in a 0-0 tie, with much thanks to the superior net-minding of Kubie (and a little help from a goalie’s best friend – the one shot that got past the Falcon goalie was cleaned up by the post!).
The final tilt of the night would have Flatbush facing off against the TABC Storm. Needing the game to stay even with the Cougars, Flatbush came out firing, and Sam Laniado staked the Falcons to an early lead that they would never let the Storm challenge. Flatbush would score 4 more, with the capper coming from a joint effort by Harari and Elmekies. Only a late goal with less than 30 second remaining denied Kubie a third shutout, and Flatbush closed out the night with a 2-0-2 record, finishing in a tie with Paramus for the top team record on the night.
But for all the intensity of the competition, the event was really about making connections and helping others, and on that level, everyone came out on top! Mazal Tov and Mabrouk to all who planned, prepared and competed in the 2017 Rapid Fire Tournament and Benefit!
NEST NOTES: Though the teams would finish it a tie, the Flatbush defense was sharp all night, giving up only two goals over the four games.
Congratulations to the members of the Flatbush Falcons Ice Hockey team for a top effort on the night: Sam Laniado, Aaron Harari, Joey Habert, Aaron Kubie, Netanel Nemet, Eddie Sorscher, Sol Laniado, Rafi Nemet and Marty Elmekies.