Team Israel was victorious in its international box debut against seventh-ranked Ireland at the European Box Invitational near Prague on Saturday night and nearly pulled off an upset the next night against the favored host.
In its opening match, Seth Mahler scored Israel’s first-ever goal in international indoor competition at 1:05, on a fast-break opportunity, setting the tone for the blue-and-white’s 17-8 victory over Ireland.
Israel jumped out to a 4-0 advantage before Kevin Owens put Ireland on the board at 14:28. The Irish battled back to cut the deficit to 6-4 at the half, but the final 30 minutes were all Israel.
Ireland was held scoreless for nearly the entire third quarter, as Israel rattled off five straight goals to take an 11-4 advantage. Both teams found themselves in penalty trouble, but Ireland conceded two penalty shots for having three consecutive fouls. Israel capitalized by going 2-for-2 with goals from Kevin Harper and Kyle Bergman.
Bergman and Harper led Israel, with each scoring three goals and one assist. Benjamin Herman and Bryan Hopper each added three goals, with Mahler (one goal, one assist) and Chase Clark (one goal, one assist) also having multipoint nights.
Dalton Lundy, Mark Jutkowitz and Harrison Freid added singles, while Pat Janson, Daniel Bialosky, Zachary Ross, Matthew Flapan and Andrew Copeland chipped in one assist each.
Copeland with 33 saves earned the winning goal.
On Sunday Israel pushed the fourth-ranked Czechs to the limit before falling 13-9.
Team Israel had the Czech Republic on the ropes, but a 4-1 fourth-quarter quashed the blue-and-white’s upset bid, as the hosts finished the weekend with a perfect 3-0 record against their European counterparts.
The game was close the entire way, with Israel holding a 7-6 halftime advantage, but Czech Republic rattled off three straight scores to take a 9-7 lead. Israel would answer back, but another three-goal run in the final frame put the game away.
Harper led Israel with four goals, while Bergman and Clark chipped in two goals and one assist each. In addition, Hopper helped out with three assists and Flapan scored a goal and chipped in an assist.
Copeland, despite racking up 47 saves, was dealt the loss in net.