New Jersey 87’s head coach and owner Adam Houli along with former defenseman and captain George Weiner can add a gold medal to their resume, as the two represented the United States Men’s ice hockey team in the 2022 Maccabi Games in Israel.
The Maccabiah Games, or the Jewish Olympics, take place every four years in Israel as the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition. The games in July marked the 21st Maccabiah, as Houli represented Team USA as an assistant coach while Weiner suited up as a defenseman.
For both Houli and Weiner, participating in the Maccabi Games meant far more than representing their home country.
“It was a very powerful moment to be in Israel as an athlete but even more important to be in Israel as a Jew,” Houli said. “It is something that I will always take very powerful and we’ll always look upon that trip or something very meaningful and important in my life.”
Weiner, who played two seasons with the 87’s EHL team and served as captain in the 2020-21 season, had never traveled to Israel. He spoke about the significance of visiting the country for the first time.
“I’ve never been to Israel, same with a lot of kids on my team. We practiced in the morning, then got to do all the touring around the whole country and see Jerusalem, Tel Aviv. It was a really cool experience to be able to do that and to play hockey out there,” Weiner said.
The Men’s bracket consisted of four teams: the United States, Israel, Canada and Team Europe. Team USA won all three of its round robin games, and defeated Team Europe and Canada in the elimination rounds for a perfect 5-0 record while securing the gold medal.
Results aside, the games served a higher purpose for the players and coaches.
“It was really about showing off that there are elite Jewish athletes out there,” Weiner said. “Jewish people have this stereotype of being nerdy doctors, lawyers and what not. It was special to see the elite athletes from around the world that are Jewish. It was really an all-around life-changing experience.”
He added what it meant to play in the games while representing his country. “Putting on a jersey with a USA crest on it is something you dream about but not everyone gets a chance to do it. Having the opportunity to do that along with representing my faith was the best of both worlds, an experience of a lifetime.”
For Houli, the gold medal added to an eventful spring and summer, only months removed from the 87’s winning its first-ever EHL championship.
“Coming off a championship with the 87‘s was a feeling of pure bliss and adding a gold medal in the same year or something that I will always remember this year,” Houli said. “It was a phenomenal feeling to get to share this with a player of our past, someone who was so important to shape who we are as a program and a club. Georgie was a very instrumental part in our success with the 87‘s and to share gold with him with something very special and I will always remember.”
Note: George Weiner appeared on Inside the 87’s earlier this summer to discuss his time in Israel and playing in the Maccabi Games. To view this episode, click on the link here: https://youtu.be/dy1OfhW35Wg
Tag(s): In the News