Friday, July 19, 2013

Friedman, Zimmel Aim For Maccabiah Games Gold

PSU's Jacob Friedman faces off against Michigan State's Lee Reimer on January 26th

Nittany Lions junior Jacob Friedman and former Icer Jaime Zimmel are two of the 18 players who will compete for Team USA in the hockey tournament at the 19th Maccabiah Games, a quadrennial event for Jewish athletes. The 2013 version will take place in Israel from July 19th through 26th. In all, approximately 9,000 athletes from 76 countries will participate in what is the third-largest international sporting event in the world.

However, with fewer than 100 athletes and four countries - Canada, Israel, Ukraine and the U.S. - in the open division of the Maccabiah's first hockey competition since 1997, the format will be quite simple. Each team will play the other three during a round robin stage lasting from July 20th through the 23rd. After that, each squad will be seeded for purposes of placement in the July 24th semifinals, with 1st playing 4th and 2nd playing 3rd. The points system will be two for a win, one for a tie, zero for a loss, the IIHF rule book will be used, and all games will be played at the Canada Center in the town of Metula, Israel's only full-size ice rink.

Friedman, unofficially the first NCAA-era recruit in Penn State history in that he was the first commit following the the Pegula donation announcement, is coming off of his sophomore season. In thirteen 2012-2013 games, Friedman scored once and added an assist, with both points in a 4-0 win over Division III Fredonia State on December 11, 2012. As a freshman with the Icers, he had nine goals and 12 assists in 31 games, helping PSU to the number one ranking for most of the season and a berth in the ACHA national semifinals. In May, Friedman was honored as an Academic All-Big Ten selection.

This won't be Zimmel's first time competing in a red, white and blue jersey. In 2009, while still an Icer, he was a member of Team USA's World University Games entry that finished a best-ever seventh place (a mark later eclipsed by 2011's sixth-place team) in Harbin, China. Zimmel scored three times and added an assist in five tournament games, including two third-period points against Slovakia on February 22, 2009. After overtime became necessary largely thanks to the New Jersey native, the U.S. went on to a shootout win clinched by Icers teammate Lukas DeLorenzo. Zimmel played 122 games at Penn State from 2005 through 2009 and registered 93 points, including a 26-goal campaign in 2007-2008.

Besides Zimmel and Friedman, other current and former college players dot Team USA's roster, including Air Force goaltender Jason Torf, Vermont forward Pete Massar and Bentley defenseman Steve Weinstein. Former Boston University star and AHLer Colby Cohen, a Philadelphia-area native who scored the national championship-winning overtime goal against Miami in 2009 and Abington's Ben Pulley, who played for the EJHL's Philadelphia Revolution last season, represent the Keystone State on the roster. Former Michigan forward Billy Jaffe, who is now an NHL Network analyst, is the head coach.

Following the Maccabiah Games promises to recreate the struggle of doing so with the WUG (or any non-televised overseas happening, to be fair), but live scoring and results can be found on the event's website, its YouTube channel may include highlights, and photos will be posted to Maccabi USA site.

Here's the full schedule for the hockey tournament. Keep in mind that all times given are local and that Israel Daylight Time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. So for example, Team USA's opening game with the host country will be played at 2:30 p.m. in Pennsylvania but 9:30 p.m. in Israel.

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