Depending upon who is asked, Morgan Leib is either the second or third girl to play hockey in the JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest.
She’s definitely the first girl to play for Detroit in the three years hockey has been part of the Maccabi Games.
And there’s no doubt Leib and her Detroit teammates split their six games earlier this month in Orange County, Calif., coming up just short of making it to the medal round of the 11-team tournament when they lost in the quarterfinals.
Here’s another truth: Detroit’s wins and losses at the Anaheim Ice facility and Leib’s place in Maccabi Games history will fade as the years pass, their places taken by the memories and friendships made off the ice.
“Hockey brings the hockey players to the Maccabi Games, of course, but it seems like hockey is about 2 percent of what they do there,” said Mark Weiss, who has coached the Detroit team all three years.
“The camaraderie, meeting players from other teams, is a much bigger part of your time,” Weiss said.
Leib agreed with her coach.
“I had an amazing time,” she said. “I was at the rink every day from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon and I made friends with so many people. I’m a very social person, so I had a lot of fun.”
Anaheim Ice is the practice facility for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks was in the facility working out during the Maccabi Games and several Detroit hockey players including Leib got to meet him.
“He’s very tall,” Leib said.
Getzlaf is 6-foot-4.
Weiss said Detroit’s hockey players once again represented the Motor City well on and off the ice.
“They’re great kids,” he said.
The other Detroit players were Ryan Becker, Ryan Berke, Henry Ellenbogen, Alex Engel, Ty Esterline, Adin Lofman, Lance Markowitz, Jonah Stein, Jonah Stern, Robert Victor and David Wrotslavsky. Mark Berke also was a coach.
One of Detroit’s wins was a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory over a combined Northern Virginia/Cleveland/Oregon/Albany-Schenectady team that sent Detroit into the quarterfinals. Budabin scored the OT goal.
Detroit ran into a tough Toronto Blue team in the quarterfinals and lost 6-2. Toronto Blue won the bronze medal.
“The talent level in the teams of the tournament was high once again,” Weiss said.
As for Leib, she had two goals and three assists in Detroit’s six games.
And the forward picked up a penalty. She was called for hooking in an early game and spent two minutes in the box while her teammates killed off the penalty.
“I hooked a kid by accident while we were battling for the puck,” she said.
So what’s next for Leib?
The 16-year-old Farmington Hills resident is in training camp with the Little Caesars U19 AAA hockey team getting ready for a season-opening showcase tournament in Vermont and she’s preparing for her senior year at the Detroit Hockey Academy in Wixom.
She wants to play for Little Caesars for two seasons, take classes next year at Wayne State University, then move on to a Division I college hockey program as she pursues her off-ice goal of going into the medical field.
There’s also the 2019 Maccabi Games & ArtsFest in Detroit. She’ll be too old to play a sport, but she’ll be a participant.
“I’m going to do ArtsFest,” she said. “Sports reporting.”
Three Softball Champs
Three division playoff champions were crowned Sunday in the Inter-Congregational Men’s Club Summer Softball League.
In high-scoring games, Temple Israel No. 6 outslugged Temple Israel No. 2 22-13 for the Greenberg Division championship and Young Israel of Southfield defeated Temple Shir Shalom No. 2 23-5 for the Rosen Division title.
The Koufax Division championship game was the most competitive of the three, all played at Community Sports Park in West Bloomfield.
Temple Beth El slipped past Congregation Shir Tikvah 7-3, winning its second straight Koufax playoff title.
This was the second year the 18-team league was split into three six-team divisions based on competition levels. The new setup has produced parity.
“Last year not one of the three regular-season champions also won the playoff championship in its division,” said Steve Achtman, one of the league directors.
“This year, only one team won its division regular-season and playoff championships: Temple Israel No. 6,” he said.
Shir Shalom No. 2 and Shir Tikvah were regular-season division champs this year, but lost in playoff championship games.
Young Israel of Southfield won its division playoff title after placing third in the Rosen Division in the regular season with a 7-10-1 record.
The Inter-Congregational fall league, organized by Achtman, begins play Sept. 9 at Community Sports Park.
For more information on the league, go to mensclubsoftball.org.
Silver In Israel
Coach Karen Gordon’s 16U USA girls basketball team won a silver medal at the inaugural International Maccabi Youth Games held last month in Israel.
Gordon coached the team just before heading to California for the JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest, where she served as Detroit’s co-delegation head.
“FIBA (International Basketball Federation) rules and their interpretations got the best of us (in Israel), but our girls were amazing,” Gordon said.
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