Is this the Goal of the Year?

Israeli Sherbatov displays sublime skill in IIHF Division III

15.07.2011
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Israeli forward Eliezer Sherbatov celebrates after scoring a goal-of-the-year worthy goal in the 2011 IIHF World Championship Division III against Greece. Video: YouTube

Is this the Goal of the Year in ice hockey? If not, show us a better one. What’s more amazing is that it was scored in the lowest men’s tier of the IIHF World Championship program, Division III, in a game between Israel and Greece in Cape Town, South Africa.

Click here to see a video of the goal

Of course, Finn Mikael Granlund’s lacrosse-move goal against Russia in the semi-final of the top pool IIHF World Championship last spring in Bratislava was breathtaking, but you would expect that kind of skill in a competition where some the world’s best players take part.

Granlund’s goal not only led Finland to the gold medal, but it also became an official Finnish postal stamp. The question is now: will the Israeli postal authorities consider the same with the circus move performed by Eliezer Sherbatov?

In any case, Sherbatov’s goal is probably the most spectacular and eye-catching ever scored in an official IIHF World Championship game, let alone on a level far below the top tier.

On the other hand, the 19-year-old, Israel-born left-wing didn’t have so much to lose when he decided to pull off this “back-between-your-legs-flip-it-up-and-poke-it-in-from-mid-air” move.

Israel won the game in Cape Town, South Africa by a score of 26-2 and Sherbatov had six goals and eight assists in this encounter played on April 15, 2011. Israel won the championship after defeating Luxembourg, South Africa, Turkey and Greece in the process.

Tournaments on the IIHF Division III level have limited exposure, with sometimes only the games of the home team being televised by the host country and that’s the reason why goals like Sherbatov’s can go unnoticed and only start to make the rounds when someone uploads it on a social media channel.

This video was initially found thanks to the Twitter feed of NHL player Paul Bissonnette (Phoenix Coyotes) when he re-tweeted it. This particular video wasn’t uploaded to YouTube until July 9.

Eliezer Sherbatov is himself a very interesting individual. Born on October 9, 1991 in Rehovot, Israel, he moved with his family to Canada and Laval (just outside Montreal) when he was two years old.

His parents were originally from Moscow, Russia, and fans of the Montreal Canadiens. According to Sherbatov (as the story is told on Wikipedia), his family was permitted into Canada because his father wanted Eliezer to be like Guy Lafleur, Montreal’s iconic forward from the ‘70s.

Sherbatov played hockey for the Israeli club HC Metulla when he was 13 and later that same year, he debuted at the 2005 IIHF World U18 Championship Division III where he was four years younger than most of the other participants. Despite his age, he had nine points in five games.

Sherbatov began playing midget hockey in Canada in 2008 with Laval-Bourassa of the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League where he collected 61 points (29+32) in 45 games.

He advanced to major junior hockey in 2009-10 and played with the Montreal Juniors in the QMJHL, recording 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 62 games. He played 37 games with Montreal again this past season, before being traded to Baie-Comeau.

This background of course makes Sherbatov a little overqualified for the World Championship Division III level. In the Cape Town tournament, the Israeli-Canadian with Russian roots amassed 26 points (14 goals and 12 assists) in four games, an average of 6.5 points per game.

Things should be more competitive for Eliezer Sherbatov next season as the win in Cape Town earned Israel promotion to the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group B in Sofia, Bulgaria.

- by IIHF.com staff with files from Wikipedia and CBSSports.com 

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