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Quartet of California talents elated to be part of inaugural women’s hockey team at Maccabi Games

 

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In yet another stellar showing of how hockey is growing in California, especially the women’s game, four players from the Golden State have been named to the inaugural women’s hockey team for the Maccabi Games, which start next week in Israel.

The Maccabi Games are part of a vision that “envisions a world where sports serve as a galvanizing force in strengthening Jewish pride, connection, and community,” in addition to building “Jewish pride through sports and promotes support for Israel, Zionism, and Jewish continuity through athletic, educational, and cultural experiences for participants of all ages.”

Heading to Israel from California are forward Jessie Arons (Palo Alto), defender Isabella Gershtein (Redwood City), forward Chelsey Goldberg (Agoura Hills), and forward Izzy Krause (Calabasas).

All four are thrilled to be named to the first-ever women’s hockey team to take part in the games.

“It means a lot to me,” said Krause. “I think this is going to be such a special experience and I’m super excited to be a part of the first Maccabi women’s hockey team. It’s awesome I can share this experience with some other California natives.

“I think my expectations are just to have fun and play some great hockey. I think as a team, we are looking forward to winning some games but also have an amazing, new experience since most of us haven’t been to Israel.”

Krause didn’t play hockey growing up in California as she started playing later than most. She has played for the Bishop Kearney Selects the past three years near Rochester, N.Y.

Gershtein said being a part of the Maccabi Games “is a huge honor.”

“I’ve always dreamt of playing internationally, and I finally have the opportunity to achieve that,” she said. “Beyond just that, with this being the first time Maccabi will have women’s hockey, I feel like I’m part of something very important – spreading the women’s game. I’m also so excited to be going with so many girls from California. I think a lot of people discount the West Coast when it comes to hockey, and this is our chance to prove them wrong.

“Many of the women on this team have never played together, but we all come from great hockey backgrounds, and I think with training camp and the practices leading up to the opening ceremony, we’ll quickly become a close team and learn to work well together. We’re extremely determined and ready to win.”

Back home, Gershtein played for the Redwood City Black Stars (a boys program), the San Jose Jr. Sharks girls, and a couple years with the Cupertino Cougars (also boys).

In 2021-22, Gershtein also made history playing for the first-ever girls team at NCAA Division III Arcadia University in Philadelphia.

“I also just want to say thanks to Arcadia University and coach Kelsey Koelzer for an amazing first season,” said Gershtein.

Arons just finished her second season at NCAA D-III Lawrence University, located in Appleton, Wis., and is now heading to Israel to compete in the Maccabi Games.

“It’s really exciting, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity,” said Arons. “I’ve never been to Israel before, so I’m looking forward to touring and learning more about the culture along with playing hockey. It’s also great to have others coming to play from my home state.

“I’m just really excited to play with such an amazing team.”

In California, Arons spent 13 seasons playing for the Jr. Sharks girls program.

Goldberg may be the most accomplished of all the California natives. Currently playing for the PWHPA program that tours the United States and Canada, she played NCAA D-I hockey at Northeastern University.

Getting to the Maccabi Games has been something Goldberg has been working on for quite some time.

“This opportunity is very special to me,” said Goldberg. “I have been actively working on this project for the past eight years, trying to get women’s hockey to the Maccabi Games. This all started when my twin brother (Chad Goldberg) was fortunate enough to play in two Maccabi games. I had actually asked Maccabi if I could roster on the men’s team, and they said no. This was back in 2014, so since then, I was like, you know what, I’m going to get women’s hockey to the Maccabi Games. I didn’t know how long it would take or what the process looked like, but fast forward to today, my dream is turning into a reality come July.

“I couldn’t have done this without the help of Devra Schorr, who sits on the board of Maccabi hockey. After hours, days, months, and obviously years of DM’ing people and gathering enough interest to field a U.S., Canadian, and Israeli team, I am so proud to say that women’s hockey will finally be at the Maccabi Games. Not only is it special to me because of how long I have been trying to make this happen, but having other Californians join me is such a cool feeling and experience that we will share together.”

After being inducted into the Jewish Hall of Fame of Southern California in 2020, Goldberg said that “it just feels like this is all falling into place and brining hockey and my Jewish heritage together.”

In Israel, the goal is to not only pick up some wins but keep putting the game on the international map.

“Obviously, everyone goes into a tournament or games wanting to win, but because this is the inaugural year for women’s hockey, I am just expecting this to be an incredible, fun, and life-changing experience that will create lifelong friendships, memories, and the opportunity to connect with Jewish athletes around the world,” Goldberg said.

Growing up, Goldberg played boys hockey with the Ventura Mariners with Chad. After many years of boys hockey, she eventually switched to girls hockey playing for the Cal Selects, LA Selects, and Anaheim Lady Ducks. From there, hockey took her back east to play for the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vt., for two years in high school, which then resulted in her receiving a scholarship to Northeastern.

“I am fortunate enough to still be competing and am in the seventh season professionally, currently playing in the PWHPA,” said Goldberg.

The women’s hockey team leaves July 5 for Israel and opens the Maccabi Games July 13 against the host country.

Photos/Gershstein/Joe Kraus/PhotoXJoe; Arons/Paul Wilke Photography/Lawrence Athletics; Krause/Provided by Izzy Krause; Goldberg/Split2ndPhoto

— Matt Mackinder

(June 28, 2022)


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